Intern working within Customer Solutions, Commercial Banking at The NatWest Group.
I really enjoyed the speaker-led sessions and insights that were hosted for us on the virtual platform with the opportunity to ask questions. I believe NatWest worked as hard as possible to maintain the integrity of the in-person internship experience for us, and we got to hear from some insightful and experienced colleagues within the bank. I especially found it useful to hear about their career journeys, as many of them started with the bank as graduates.
NatWest made a full commitment to keeping its full intern cohort and giving a us a valuable experience whilst also paying us for our work. This made me feel valued by the company as they recognised how essential it is for low-income students looking to secure internships to be able to financially support this. Their responses to emails and queries were prompt and they continually proved to be a company who value their interns and graduates.
I had a fantastic graduate buddy who dedicated an hour a week to talking to me over the phone and answering any questions I had over the 4 weeks. This really supported my experience as it meant I had a full and rounded understanding of the concepts being discussed in some of the whole-group sessions. I felt fully supported by my buddy and being able to ask questions to someone on the grad scheme was absolutely invaluable as it is a path I am really interested in pursuing.
I do not have a background (or a degree) in economics so the information and skills that we were assisted with will really benefit me if I choose to pursue banking as a career beyond my academic studies. It also gave me an insight into the skills needed to work in a corporate setting, which is something I was completely new to, and I believe this will help me in any commercial role I chose to pursue, banking or otherwise.
The virtual experience was very well structured, with sessions taking place exclusively in the mornings. This gave me an early start to my day and meant I had full autonomy to structure my afternoons around my internship and university work outside of contact hours. This was also useful for scheduling meetings with my CSR team and my team for the Case Study, as it meant there was always time we could dedicate to speaking over Zoom which would not interfere with the contact hours.
The general atmosphere was really positive and enthusiastic; it was fantastic to be working alongside other interns who were as committed to making as much of the experience as I was, and who each brought their own insights and experiences to the virtual table. I think this was so positive because the interns felt valued and supported, and nobody felt insecure or afraid to raise their hand in the question and answer sessions at the end of each talk.
NatWest brought in key speakers from high up within the bank, and external workshop facilitators for all their interns. This felt like a huge investment in our development as they allocated time to develop the skills we had voted for as our preferences, and also dedicated time to mental health and wellbeing, as well as informal chats and coffee sessions with colleagues at the bank. Overall I felt like the bank were very committed to up-skilling their interns.
I don't believe it gave me as comprehensive an understanding as an in-person 10-week experience at the bank would have, but this goes without saying. However, I do believe NatWest were committed to giving us as close to an in-person experience as possible, and gave us hours of contact with graduates currently completing their rotations at the bank which enabled us to ask questions about the graduate and intern experience; overall I believe I would really enjoy a full-time role with the company.
The culture of the bank is purpose-led and this was completely self-evident in all of the virtual sessions they gave us. I believe this overall caring and invested aspect of their culture shone through in the virtual internship because it so deeply informed the career paths and choices made by the key speakers. As well as this, the bank demonstrated, even on an online platform, that their culture is one committed to the development of new talent.
The internship programme absolutely informed my choices for the future as I was previously considering doing a masters in my current subject and then pursuing a career in academia. However, having participated in the internship I am now certain that I would like to work in a corporate environment after I graduate, and if I am offered a place on the graduate scheme with the bank, I would absolutely love to take it and start my career with them.
Despite the programme being reduced from 10 weeks in-person to 4 weeks online, the bank paid us for the full 10 weeks. This is the only company I know of who were willing to do this for their interns, and made this commitment very early on in the process of transitioning to working online. I am beyond grateful to the bank for doing this as it meant that I, as a low income student who relies on paid work in the summer, was able to complete the internship without worrying about my financial stability in this time.
There were an abundance of opportunities for networking, from speaker-led sessions with managing directors, to informal coffee mornings with colleagues, to graduate buddy sessions to self-arranged intern games nights. I set up my LinkedIn account a week into the internship because I wanted to stay connected to the wonderful network of interns, grads, and colleagues at the bank who I met and got to know during the virtual programme. The transition to working online definitely did not inhibit the opportunities to network.
The networking opportunities were really useful, especially since most of them involved managing directors from a huge variety of areas of the bank and from different offices who I was unlikely to have met if the internship had gone ahead in-person. The interns were all very sociable and friendly, and arranged their own games nights which gave us an opportunity to chat outside of the contact hours. We also had opportunities like the virtual escape room and meditation sessions which enables us to socialise with interns from other programmes within the bank.
We met members of the CSR graduate council, and were told of the four other graduate councils who exist and what they do to facilitate employee activities within and outside of the office. As well as this, I spent hours talking with my graduate buddy who offered me an invaluable insight into the social culture of the bank, and what socialising looked like in the specific office I am interested in working in, which was really useful.
I would absolutely recommend NatWest's internship to any of my friends looking for an insight into a career in banking with a company who are committed to their colleagues, customers and environment. I believe the values NatWest emphasises on their media platforms (website, job application process etc) completely resonated with my experience of the bank, and it was brilliant to see a company of this size so invested in the future of their new talent.