I was working in the Actuarial, Human Resource Services department. This is comprise of Pensions and the Executive Reward teams. In Pensions, I spent a lot of time learning the mechanics of a pension scheme and also different issues surrounding pensions, and helped with calculations and some simple Excel work. In Executive Reward, my main duties were research and business development (as this is a relatively new sector for the company).
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
The reason my rating is not a 10 is purely because of the nature of actuarial work, which meant that unless I'd had proper actuarial training, I would not be able to do the more "interesting" parts. Simply put, the easier work I found too easy, and anything harder would be too hard.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
The people there are fantastic. They made me feel at home from day one. They were professional, yet personal. I think this is because of the recruitment process, meaning most people at the company are very like-minded.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
The level of support was a good balance between being told what to do, and having freedom to take the initiative. The company has an objectives and feedback system, and these were set and reviewed monthly, meaning I could see what I was doing well and what I could further improve on. I also had a Coach and a Buddy for support, and both were invaluable.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
The level of work was good, however due to the nature of pensions and the current economic climate, the level of work is not consistent. Sometimes we'd be put under great pressure to finish by a close deadline, other times there seemed to be no work to do at all.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
Again, this is purely because of the nature of the sector I was working in. To take on extra responsibility would mean having to go through training and perhaps even be on my way to qualification, so I was given as much responsibility as they could (legally) offer.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
I greatly developed my interpersonal skills, teamwork skills, IT skills and presentation skills (one day presenting in front of 20 staff and partners!). I now know a great deal about pensions, whereas my previous knowledge was zero. Furthermore, it has made me very determined to get a good degree in order be able to work in such a company in future.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
People were friendly, and generous! There was always someone bringing in cakes and treats for everyone. Everyone got on well with each other and there was never a bad word to be heard about anyone.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
I think this is because despite the company's size, it only took 15 actuarial interns for the whole of the UK. So it is expected that less effort would be spent on organising the internship. As a result, it did lack structure at times.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
In the very first week all the interns (in UK) are put up in a nice hotel/country club-type resort, and are given training. During the day we'd have formal training and presentations, and there were always activities organised such as karaoke, quiz night and a BBQ. Halfway through the internship each region was given its own day of training allowing the interns to develop further. Training was also given on a more informal level in-house.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
I was offered a job. I think the retention rate is somewhere in the region of 96% for summer interns.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
We all had a chance to meet the othe interns in the first week at the training, and there were events organised by interns, for interns throughout the internship. The usual events were also organised by colleagues such as birthday parties, exam-pass celebrations.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
London is expensive. However, the salary is higher than other regions to reflect this.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
This is London we're talking about.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There was a weekly 5-a-side football game organised for our office. I know the company does get involved in many other activities such as volunteering and other activities, however being interns we weren't offered these (I'm guessing for insurance/H&S reasons).