Although us virtual interns didn't quite know what to expect from an online experience, our expectations were definitely exceeded. Whilst WFH, we still managed to create a great network, learn a range of skills from a variety of training that was provided and from projects that were assigned to us. Also, we had engaging sessions such as 'Interns Quiz', 'Portrait class' and 'Executive Speaker sessions' which made it an all-rounded program. If we were able to visit and work in the office, I'm sure our experience would have been even better.
Despite us being Interns for a short amount of time, colleagues from all areas of the bank and all positions were so welcoming and willing to give us time. This allowed us to build an extensive and valuable network, as well as have individuals to reach out to with questions which added value to our project work. We also had 1:1s and office hours with the relevant Heads of divisions and HR representative our lines of business, which created a comfortable environment.
Regardless of the experience being virtual, when seeking guidance on project work or issues, a lot of the responsibility does come down to yourself. Once you take the initiative and correctly reach out to the appropriate colleagues or support staff, the support we received was great. This applied to all areas of the Bank: from the Technology team (for queries regarding our HVDs) to analysts, VPs or MDs for questions regarding our project work. Being a virtual experience, we couldn't just walk up to someone's desk to ask questions. Having said this, the support we got was always very helpful and elaborate.
I do believe that some of the knowledge I gained from the training can be applied to my 'Financial Economics' module of my BSc Economics degree studies. In terms of skills, I have learnt to be much more time efficient in my work, having had to multi-task several projects and deadlines simultaneously. I have also learnt to pay more attention to detail after working for a global company. This will certainly help me improve the quality of any work I do going forward. Also, I have enhanced my communication skills through networking on such a large scale, which can help me confidently build my network further in the future.
I appreciated how the training was given to us prior to our main business-specific projects which were assigned in the later second half of the internship. This helped us build the basic fundamental understanding of the field before diving into delivering output. However, if we were assigned some more projects a bit earlier, I think we would have been more capable to deliver to a higher standard as we could spread our time and attention on our different projects more evenly.
Having joined one of the smaller internship groups/divisions in the bank, us interns were able to build a friendly, sociable atmosphere despite the short time. My managers made me feel comfortable to discuss any issues I had, without the fear of it affecting my chance of conversion. Also, every day felt like a new day because our schedules were always filled with something different and exciting. This helped build morale as it could have seemed quite repetitive sitting at your home desk for hours every day.
Training aspect: We had a range of training sessions which helped us build a basic foundation for general knowledge regarding the field, but later focussed on building our awareness of our specific line of business.
Development aspect: A lot of sessions were organised to help us get through our virtual experience effectively. Training sessions were not just targeted to build professional skills, but also regarding our health and personable skills.
People aspect: The time and effort spent on arranging speaker sessions with important stakeholders at the Bank was really appreciated by us interns. This included not just region specific individuals, but the global team.
It goes without saying that a virtual experience is quite different to having a full time role at the office. We missed out on some social aspect, especially making friends with other interns since the virtual experience was quite focussed on training, projects and networking with Banks' employees. Also, we are aware that we would have felt even more a part of the Bank we were working in the office beside our fellow interns and senior colleagues. Having said this, I still think we had a great virtual experience which helped us gain an insight into the Bank's values, the lines of businesses and the type of work we would be expected to do as an Analyst.
We had several sessions regarding the Bank's culture, values and objectives. Not only this, almost every individual we networked with gave us an insight into their opinion of the Bank's culture, and why they've stuck with the company for so long. We were able to take part in extra ongoing activities that the Bank are involved in, which helped us further understand how the company values a work life balance, and development outside of just work.
Our internship wasn't a rotation between all lines of business. It effectively gave us an overview of the different areas of the bank which helped us understand where our specific division lies in the bigger picture of the wider team. The program helped us deep dive into our specific division. Being a GTS intern, I was able to explore both the Product and Sales aspects by completing projects on both sides. This allowed me to gain a better understanding of where my skillset would be better fit.
We were paid what we would have been paid if this wasn't a shortened, virtual experience. Us interns did appreciate how our pay wasn't compromised; we were very adequately paid for the program we took part in. I am also aware that those who had previously booked accommodation prior to the switch to a virtual program (e.g. international students) were fairly reimbursed for their expenses. Also, any phone charges that arose from international dial ins to conference calls was also compensated.
The opportunity ranged from question and answer panel sessions to 1:1 phone calls / virtual meetings with members of the bank. This didn't just include our line managers, but we were able to reach out to employees from other lines of businesses in all different positions too. I really appreciated how the opportunities extended to the global company so we were able to speak to the US, LatAm, APAC team along with our EMEA team.
I would say the panels and networking opportunities with the Bank's employees were very valuable and helpful. Everyone was willing to answer questions or guide us to a more effective source of information. We were also given the chance to get involved in social activities where external stakeholders joined us in making our program more interactive. Nonetheless, I do feel like the virtual environment meant that we missed out on the opportunity to socialise with other fellow interns from different lines of businesses.
Not only were we informed about the different employee networks, but we were also allowed to be a part of them and join any ongoing activities. This gave us a sense of belonging to the wider team and getting involved in such activities showed us the bank's value for a work-life balance. Leaders of such networks were also very welcoming to answer any questions on the development of such groups or any activities that may have been happening at the time.
I think if we were to be in another situation where a virtual experience is the only option, I would definitely recommend it to a friend. I don't think the potential for learning, developing new skills and networking were heavily undermined by the virtual setting. If anything, we were able to network with and meet the wider global team which wouldn't have been as possible if we were working in the office. I would go as far as saying that this virtual experience was the best, if not better, than it could have been given the current situation.