Given the limitations, I felt that the experience offered by NatWest was very fulfilling, and I was surprised at the networking opportunities available even from a virtual circumstance. I appreciated the soft skills development, however I would have liked to have the chance to carry out technical work more specific to the programme I applied for (software engineering). I understand the difficulty this would entail remotely though, and perhaps it would have been cause for frustration as opposed to growth.
Honestly, I initially had my doubts about how well I would feel integrated without being in an office, however I was very impressed with how I felt valued as an individual. Having approximately 180 facecams on during sessions meant that I actually got to know the other interns very well, and arguably even better than I would conventionally as a name tag was always attached to the image!
Q&A sessions for virtually every zoom session gave a strong feeling of connection with the speaker, and the encouraged interactivity between interns gave a real sense of community to the internship.
I will say that I am let down that RBS will not offer a graduate role to someone in my situation, where my masters course has been delayed by a few due to the pandemic, meaning I do not graduate in time for a September start next year.
There was a strong support structure in place throughout the internship, with frequent updates from programme organisers and an entire portal based around keeping everyone connected and in the loop.
I felt a little disconnected from my buddy throughout the process. Although we had met up once prior to the internship start, I got the vibe that they were just going through the motions and not necessarily enthusiastic about providing an insight into the company.
A lot of the support came from other interns, with a number of Linkedin and Whatsapp groups being set up to stay connected.
I don't really feel the skills I developed are necessarily applicable to my degree studies. During the software engineering week, Agile methodology was touched on, however this was at a very high level and thus I did not really take much away from it.
There was a stronger focus on soft skills development. Teamworking and interactivity were strongly emphasised, which I feel will be very useful in an office environement.
In my opinion the most useful takeaway was the development in networking skills, which will undoubtably have an impact throughout my career.
The entire process felt very organised and thought out. I was very impressed with the forethought and planning. Every presentation and activity given felt well rehearsed and had plenty of content. Without a doubt, this was an area where I felt the NatWest organisers excelled.
There were a few minor hickups; a couple of the speakers needed replaced at the last second, which somewhat impacted the previously submitted questions interns sent in. A couple of technical glitches also meant one or two speakers had difficulty delivering their presentations.
The atmosphere throughout was very positive, and the integration of charity into the internship gave me the confidence that NatWest puts its money where its mouth is with regards to empowering and helping its customers and small businesses.
There was a very strong sense of diversity, which led to a very humbling experience when hearing about all the fantastic charitable work the interns had carried out from all across the globe. It gave me a very true realisation of how good these people I have been working with are.
Unfortunately, very little can be said about what my typical day to day would look like working for NatWest full time. The programme for which I applied is in its first iteration, and thus much of the graduate programme is still in the planning stage. I would have been interested to find out what specific technical work I would be carrying out, however due to the lack of personnel, much of what we heard was anecdotal from graduates in semi-related, but different areas of the bank.
Company culture was strongly emphasised throughout the process, and not just in the content that was delivered, but HOW the content was delivered. A strong encouragement on having facecams on and asking the speaker questions only backed up what the speakers were discussing about a work culture which emphasises personal growth and a flat organisational structure. One of NatWest's major company goals is to empower local community, and thus was strongly backed up with the integration of charity into the internship process.
NatWest fully compensated its interns the amount which would have been paid out had the internship taken place in an office over the full 10 weeks.
There was a strong connection with employees throughout the firm, of varying disciplines and levels. All the speakers were very open to hearing from interns directly, and would offer their email/linkedin so that they could answer any other questions interns might have outside of the session.
It was also very common for graduates to run activity sessions where they would also take part, giving interns the opportunity to ask questions and build a relationship with someone they would very likely be working with in and around an office.
I felt this is an area where the true limitations of the remote workspace was felt. When meeting up with teams of 5+ people, it was very likely at least somebody would be having technical issues to some degree. Conversations were frequently cut short when zoom would kick everyone out of breakout rooms with an iron fist.
NatWest also attempted to carry out a virtual escape room, however I felt letdown by the experience. Individual team members were still technically doing the escape room on their own, which meant quite often there was a lag for all team members to catch up to the next puzzle as an answer would require an all-caps answer without making that explicitly clear.
It strongly depends on what someone would want out of the experience.
If you are interested in learning how the company (at a high level) operates, as well as get involved with networking opportunities and develop soft skills, then I think the virtual experience with NatWest is an excellent introduction to the company.
If you are interested in finding out and trying out what you will technically be doing on the job, then I feel it falls somewhat short.