The very beginning of the pipeline for the company's graduate schemes. Based in a large retail branch the aim is to give you an overview of, and exposure to, the banks retail operations.
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
Definitely worthwhile, freedom to find out about area's you want to (e.g. spend time with premier managers, commercial managers, independent investment advisor, financial advisors, councillors, cashiers, operational risk teams, business advisors). You can get exposure to the bank (at really, really, 'europe & international' high levels, national, regional and local levels to get perspective). There are 3 x 2days spent together with the other 1st & pen-ultimate year summer interns, at community days, head-office visits, training and networking days. Skills not necessarily relating to banking such as how to really reassure people, how to approach people in a way they're receptive to, how to go about getting things done in a large organisation etc. Things that only experience & practice/attempts can improve. And with an enjoyable group of people!
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Especially during the summer holiday season, what you do can provide a lot of welcome cover for staff away on their holidays. And even if what you're doing isn't crucial for the bank, staff are interested in you're internship and treat you as one of them.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Great guidance from all levels (national, regional, local). Branch manager gave me a number of worthwhile projects (Given the scale of regulation around banking, and the fact I have no experience or/qualifications in banking, there's a number of things I can't touch. To find a project around that isn't as easy as it sounds). 1:1's with manager, visits to regional office, email/phone contact with national HR graduate&intern manager, as well as spending a 3-4days with them. Mentors from the current graduate scheme too, as well as immediate help from managers in branch. You'd struggle not to find help!
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
There are a number of area's in banking that would be risky to leave to an unqualified intern. Therefore if you aren't proactive, you're liable to end up sticking with the basic tasks you can do. However, if you do projects well and thoroughly that keeps you on your game. And if you want to do another task, as long as you go and find someone doing that other task, they'll without doubt tell you what they're doing and how to do it yourself. But you will have to be proactive in this regard. However, there was never a day spent 'just sitting around'. It was simply a question of making you're own variety.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
After a few days, don't be surprised if you're fielding every kind of question the public can possibly ask. You are obviously responsible for the image of the bank at this point. If you can't do anything for anyone, that implies the bank can't either! Therefore make sure you go and find someone who can help the customer. I've learnt a lot of what i know from having to find it out for a customer. Your project is yours (you get your brief, run off, and come back next week/fortnight with your solution) which is great. And once the banks happy you can do something, then they leave it to you to do. In that respect, you're responsible for what you do, for finding who you need to, for getting projects done, for keeping information confidential etc. There's no supervisor over your shoulder.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Management in action, both locally and regionally (i.e. 1-step removed), see current management information, marketing, not only are you working in a business, but with the business lending and commercial lending areas, you get exposure to other businesses business plans etc. Invaluable in mapping degree info to the real world and vice versa.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
Always something going on with an interesting customer, potential fraud spots, people coming in and out the office all the time, people going for customer meetings, businesses situations that you don't see everyday etc, cakes/pastries/cookies etc regularly brought in for someone's birthday, a specific promotion, a celebration or simply because there was an offer on down the road. The office was always active and moving.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
Its a tried and tested blueprint. I arrived with my name badge, system passwords, staff id registration etc all set-up. Regional and Head office visits are arranged, as is the community. Yet there's complete flexibility around you and your manager. The manager makes or breaks the experience, and its no coincidence that they choose strong managers to place interns with. There's also a set of objectives which, although not completely thought through, act as a very good guide throughout the internship. Well organised.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
2 days at the companies bricketwood training complex, a visit to head office, a more-than-decent salary, all paid for by the company. Definitely don't feel under-funded. Managers take interns through their management information, I sat in on numerous appointments, and mortgage/financial/insurance specialist would explain to me what's going on, what they're doing and why etc both before and afterwards. Spent time with head of branch, head of area, head of region, head of 'europe & international'. The company's definitely willing to invest time in interns.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Definitely looking to work within the company. The feel of the whole internship is of 'investment in interns now, and the interns will justify the cost later on and beyond the graduate scheme'. Interns are definitely invested in disproportionately, and exposed (with a certain amount of risk to the company) with the aim of development, and it makes you want to use that development with a role at the company in the future.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Often go for a drink with collegues, and when with fellow interns had nights out, drinks, quizzes, plenty of time to talk, all at bricketwood for the weekend etc. Plenty of social scope.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Brighton. Not cheap, but definitely not unreasonable. Especially compared to london.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Good mix of pubs and bars hidden in 'the lanes' which adds to the atmosphere. The clubs gravitate towards the beach/sea.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
If you wanted to. Plenty of sports clubs etc. But its a 7 weeks internship, so not a major concern.