The virtual experience was well delivered and comprehensive. It definitely did not limit the opportunities that we had as much as I would have expected. The team I was working with made a real effort to welcome the interns and reach out to us individually to help, especially our buddies. The work was varied and often engaging, giving a good insight into the day to day work of a modern actuary in a large brokerage firm (both the tedious and more interesting aspects).
People were constantly reaching out to see how you were doing and to offer support, and not just as a surveillance apparatus. The extensive technical support (including a laptop, a monitor, mouse and keyboard, headset) showed how much the firm was willing to invest in the interns and value them. People made an effort to give us the big picture and emphasize the actual importance of work that ostensibly seemed unnecessary. Feedback was given well.
Considering the virtual nature of the internship, support was very well handled. HR and IT responded quickly when the technology went awry and handled the training process well. Support was constantly offered both by people that I was working with directly and other people on the team. It was given generously and people never got annoyed by questions that were asked (or if they did, they did a very good job of hiding this from me).
The work was to a very large extent based on Excel, so naturally my Excel skills quickly improved, from an extremely low baseline to a point where most data manip functions are now fairly straightforward, and I even have an (albeit basic) understanding of VBA. SQL knowledge was also developed, although probably not to the same extent. This knowledge will not assist me in my degree studies given that my degree is largely qualitative and non-numerical, but could well assist me in any data analysis that is required in another role.
The internship was very well structured. It started with a week of HR training with the entire cohort of interns (around 60 of us) that was really corporate HR training and included a lot of jargon about core values and competencies etc. In the following week we then entered our teams where we continued to receive training and were quickly integrated into projects. The internship was 8 weeks in total, which was probably a good length.
The general atmosphere was probably one of the harder things to create virtually given that we were not all sharing working spaces. People made an effort to be friendly, and to replicate the spontaneous chats that you might have in an office as best as possible. But without the background noise of an office that lets you observe the shared norms and 'common sense' of a team, it is hard to get a sense of the atmosphere.
As specified before the training was comprehensive. They invested in us both in terms of the physical equipment we were provided with (monitor, laptop, mouse and keyboard, headset) but also in terms of the time that HR, the Early Careers Team, and our broader work teams devoted to us. It was made clear that Aon continue to value new recruitment and are devoting resources to talent acquisition despite the pandemic and world-wide, catastrophic recessions that it triggered.
As well as a virtual experience could. We had the same virtual setup as the other members of the firm and were included in meetings and projects in the same way. On the whole, the work we were involved in was not training exercises or busy work but real client work that we completed with the help of more experienced colleagues. This gave a very good idea of what a full time role would be like.
As indicated in the previous question, the fact that we do not share common spaces in an office does limit the extent to which we can understand the company culture. Especially during our HR training, we were given explicit instruction on the company values, but it was harder to learn the unwritten and implicit shared norms and common social meanings that define a company culture to a far greater extent that the values that are explicitly espoused.
Since we were doing actual work, it was a great help in deciding on future career paths. It became clear very quickly just how important coding and other computational skills were to the job, which gave me a lot to think about. We got a good understanding of the general workflow of projects, and what skills were required at each stage. The role was highly numerate and technical, requiring very little in the way of language skills (although these probably become more important as people move up the ranks).
We were paid pro rata for the 8 week internship. The pay rate was good considering how much training and technical assistance we were offered. This included 4 days of paid holiday that we could take at any time. Other benefits such as health insurance and pension contributions were offered. The overall package was adequate, specially considering that the costs of the internship was lowered from not having to commute or arrange living arrangements in London.
Yes - there were lots of talks encouraging us to engage in networking and giving advice as to how we could do it in a virtual environment. I was lucky enough to have a talk in a small group with one of the members of digital marketing to talk about effective uses of social media. There were efforts to make global links between colleagues- we had talks with both the American and the Asian interns.
The social opportunities were pretty good considering the virtual environment. We had a quiz towards the beginning with all of the interns and other social events were organised by our teams. The events that we had were really fun and probably the best indication of the culture of the teams, but it could have been nice to have more of them. The networking events were good also, and encouraged us to be proactive with it.
We got informed of potential volunteering opportunities early on. The opportunities were more limited than normal given the social distancing restrictions, but a big effort was made by Human Resources to give us the information about the potential opportunities that would be made available if we returned to do a full time role when working practices were more normal. The social opportunities, as said above, were well integrated into the internship, even if there were not as many as might have been ideal.
Obviously it depends what there interests are. If they were highly numerate and really enjoyed working with technology then I would recommend it. If your interests aligned with the sort of work that was on offer, Aon is probably one of the best places to do it. The team was welcoming and friendly, and even virtually, it was a nice place to work. It was a good way to spend a summer, especially when other people's internships were being cancelled.