Summer internship spanning 9 and a half weeks, offering an insight into life in the finance department at Network Rail.
I enjoyed working with Network Rail immensely. The work is really varied day to day, which meant it was always interesting. Being on the internship also meant we went around to the different areas of the business and different teams and gained an insight into their daily work; which means you can make a calculated decision about what you want to do as a career. For example we had placements in two different teams while we were there, for a month each; but also had insight mornings in Property, Financial Shared Services, and Investment etc.
The value placed on you as an intern was great – as we were the first summer interns, everybody was really interested in the work we were doing. The teams I worked in gave me serious work to complete rather than sticking me on the photocopier! While I was there I put together a skills matrix to be used across the entirety of the Finance Department, and learnt how to put together a budget. Not only do you feel like a member of the team you’re working in, you also learn a wide range of skills which can be used in a future finance career.
A lot of the people I was working with were on the graduate scheme only a few years ago, so understood I had no finance experience and might not know how to complete some of the tasks! Not only were the managers really supportive and had regular checks that we were getting on okay; the entire team tried to help me whenever they could. If I was given a task to do I was always talked through it if I hadn’t done it before, and they taught me more excel than I needed to complete the tasks just in case I needed it in the future which was really helpful!
To begin with I was the perfect balance of busy; everybody had planned work for me to do but didn’t pile it all on me at once. Once I had finished one task they asked me to come over and they would talk me through the next one which was great. Later on in the internship the work slowed slightly, but that was mainly due to holidays and people in external meetings – but the majority of the time I was kept busy with interesting work!
Considering I came into the company with no financial experience at all, I was proud of the amount of experience given to me over my internship. For example, being tasked with formatting and populating a report going out to the routes and business partners, or imputing data into the company database for the end of the period, was not what I imagined doing before I started; but it was great to get the opportunity to do, as it gives you a real flavour of what working for Network Rail is really like.
Considering I’m not pursuing finance related degree, what I’ve learnt this summer won’t help me in final year unfortunately! In the future however I’m set on pursuing a job in the finance sector, the internship has completely sold it to me! What I’ve learnt during the internship will be invaluable; from excel skills, to business partnering – I certainly no longer feel held back by not completing a finance degree!
When you first see the Network Rail offices I was expecting an overly corporate feel, since I had never experienced such a large company before. As soon as we started on the first day however everybody was very friendly and relaxed. Every morning when you come in you’re greeted with smiles from everybody, and once we’d had experience mornings with a team they always said hello to you if they saw you again! The friendliness and feel of the company is a huge selling point!
After a slight rush to start and return the paperwork to the contractors, who actually employed us, the internship was very well organised. When we started on the first day we were given a calendar of the taster sessions we would be attending and days out to places like signalling stations as a treat every few weeks! In my first placement they had also developed a similar calendar of work, so I always knew who I would be with and the work I would be completing – which was really helpful!
Going past the on-the-job training we were receiving, we had more development while we were there which will be great for our applications in the future. We had an interview skills workshop with somebody from HR – which talked us through how to really impress in our final interviews. We also had a presentation skills workshop with one of the finance managers.
I think that even if we had to go through the entire application process, the knowledge gained from the internship would stand us in great stead with our applications. However the finance graduate recruiters are currently in talks with recruitment about fast tracking us to final interview. In the future the promotions structure is fantastic – the banding system means the next step for promotion is clear, and most of the graduates within the company have gone on to do very well and quickly make their way up in the organisation.
There were only 4 of us on the internship, but we quickly formed a good relationship. We had lunch together every day, and spending time together in Manchester on one of our very first days taking a trip to Financial Shared Services meant we had some time out of work to get to know one another.
I don’t live in Milton Keynes so couldn’t comment on the price of living; but the socialising aspect is great! Trips to the local Wetherspoons are a regular occurrence – and obviously the Wetherspoons price structure is widely known! There’s also a bar called Missoula which is nicer than the Wetherspoons and we were taken here by the graduate recruiters. All round the socialising was a great aspect of work, and getting an hour for lunch means people sometimes take a trip out in their lunch hour.
Since I don’t live around the area I didn’t really experience the nightlife, but as above, Wetherspoons and Missoula are both options around the area!
Although I wasn’t really there long enough to get involved, the opportunities to get involved are definitely there. For sporty people, the Quadrant has a netball team, and also a football team as far as I know. There may be other sports teams too! They also have other events regularly available, for example they have art events and silk painting was one while I was there. They also have a Christian Fellowship – so the opportunities are plentiful!