Guest post: An investment banking spring week at Barclays

Theodoros Georgiadis, a first year student on the Accounting and Finance programme at LUMS, gives an interesting insight into his experiences during his spring week placement at Barclays.

I applied for my Spring Week in the middle of my first term at LUMS and I am so glad I did as the experience gave me a huge insight into the world of banking and it positions me very well for next year. My week ran as follows:

Day 1:  We had a welcome session from senior people working in Barclays and started to gain our first insight into the financial markets. We were advised there would be lots of group work and, indeed, present a group project on our final day. Additionally, it was clear there would be lots of networking sessions with the opportunity to meet current employees across all sectors of Barclays and other Spring Interns from other departments with the prospect of making lots of new connections.

Day 2: I met my Barclays ‘buddy’ and would work shadow him throughout the week. As well as seeing his work, it was an opportunity to gain a personal opinion from someone currently working in the bank about ‘life at Barclays’. I also received an introduction and overview into the Barclaycard (credit card) division of Barclays. Indeed, most days, in my group, I received an introduction and overview on a different department.

Day 3: I was introduced to Barclays Wealth and Business Banking and had group project work to complete. Throughout the week there was a big emphasis on Barclays’ values which follow the acronym RISES: Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence, Stewardship. Clearly the Bank wants employees who can truly embrace and fit into the Barclays culture.

Day 4: An insight into Corporate Banking and Consumer Banking and further group project work.

Day 5: I had the opportunity to get involved in some filming in a digital studio all targeting  next year’s candidates applying for the Barclays Spring Week programme. I never imagined that media and marketing played such a big part within Investment Banking; I thought it was all about finance!

Importantly, also on the final day, I had an interview, CV guidance and a discussion about which division I wished to apply to for a summer internship next year. Depending on what you want to do, if your interviews go well soon after the Spring Week, a candidate can be offered a 2nd year summer internship even though he/she is still in their first year at LUMS! Indeed, I now have an interview next week for a 2nd year summer internship in Barclays Wealth Management. If I secure this position, this is the dream scenario to be in and one of the big attractions of Spring Weeks.

Finally, we presented our group project to senior employees of the bank – a nerve wracking but thrilling experience. We had been tasked to come up with a new initiative so that Barclays can attract more 18-24 year olds. We focused on the student market with a ‘Barclays Scholar Account’ concept.

Reflecting on the week, I was able to gather a lot of information on the different business divisions and associated career paths at Barclays; everything from Investment Banking, Wealth Management, Business Banking, Corporate Banking, Consumer Banking, Technology and Operations. There was the opportunity to meet new people, both from inside and outside of Barclays, as well as the opportunity to develop new skills particularly via the group tasks. Of course, I also have the 2nd year internship interview next week. The whole experience was hugely rewarding.

Guest post: My job application journey so far

Final year LUMS Accounting and Finance student Prithiv Ghosal shares his experiences of the financial services application processes and his journey so far as an international student. He also offers some excellent advice to those seeking employment in this sector.

Hi, I am a final year international student in Accounting and Finance at LUMS. I have previously interned with an Indian Investment Bank, PwC UK and will be interning further with the Financial Conduct Authority this summer. I would like to share my experience of applying to several organisations in the financial services area and getting through the application processes at PwC, Willis Towers Watson and the Financial Conduct Authority successfully. In my experience, most of these organisations have had a four-staged application process with an online application questionnaire, psychometric tests, telephone interview and assessment centre. In this article, I would like to focus on some of the most helpful resources I have used for my applications:

  • LUMS Careers Website: The careers website provides excellent resources to practice online psychometric tests of all types for free! Practice is the only trick to passing these tests. The quantitative reasoning tests I have given were never challenging in terms of mathematics techniques tested but mainly time pressured and logic driven.
  • Alumni: Many top employers will have university alumni working for them. I have found many of them keen to help and in an excellent position to guide me through every stage of the application. Many have even recently gone through the process themselves and are aware of the entire process and how to navigate through it. These people can be approached through LinkedIn or LUMS Careers.
  • Online Career Websites: Websites such as Glassdoors, WikiJobs and The Student Room can be invaluable resources to research application processes for most companies. These websites have students posting everything, from job reviews to help target and understand companies for applications to reviews about application process and frequently asked interview questions for telephone and video interviews.
  • Societies: LUIFS, Economics Society and several other management school societies organise events with firms ranging from HSBC, Deutsche Bank, PwC and EY to Accenture. These are fantastic opportunities to meet people from various  organisations in an informal environment and such meets are usually greatly appreciated when mentioned in application forms.
  • Financial Careers Coach: This special arrangement is available to LUMS students only. An experienced banker and careers coach holds mock assessment centres and other events throughout the year for students. Furthermore, his website, ‘Opening City Doors’ provides excellent application preparation advice, questions and even a regularly updated markets update for commercial awareness questions in interviews. The five-minute read can provide an excellent summary for any financial service interview and is easy to understand.
  • Society Experience: I cannot stress enough the importance of joining societies. My experience with LUIFS has helped me answer many difficult questions in interviews, has been looked upon favourably by employers and in masters applications and most importantly, has actually helped me grow tremendously, both professionally and personally.

Finally, I would strongly encourage any student targeting top financial services employers to start applying in September and October as most large employers start assessment centres by December. Furthermore, being an international student myself, I would strongly encourage others to apply to jobs and can say that plenty of opportunities are available as many top recruiters hire international students (usually clarified in the FAQ section of company careers website). Lastly, I would strongly advise a quality over quantity approach to applying. Having tried both for myself, I have found that speculative, unprepared applications seldom lead to success.

I wish you all the very best for your applications and am happy to be contacted regarding any questions regarding the organisations mentioned above.

 

What is your USP?!

A unique selling point (USP) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors, in the context of a student it is the quality or skill that differentiates you and enables you to stand out compared to other students.

Whether applying for Spring insight programmes, penultimate year internships or graduate schemes and jobs, having several USP’s can give you a major advantage in the application process and be the catalyst to you securing that role or job. You will be competing with a lot of other students around the country and potentially the world; some of these students will have equivalent degree qualifications (2:1/1st degrees) from other top 10 universities, hence why it is important to focus on more that academic excellence alone.

The following are areas to consider and develop in order to increase your value as a potential employee.

‘All work experience is good work experience’

This statement is indeed true, the most important element employers are looking for are the skills gained from that experience and how it can be beneficial in the position you are applying for.

Work experience, whether a part time job or an internship will help you stand out from the crowd at interviews; whilst on your internship you can take advantage of your environment and begin to network and create professional relationship with others in your chosen field. This is also a great chance to secure employment after graduation if you impress influential people in the company.

Interpersonal skills can be described as a type of social intelligence, they include: teamwork, communication and listening skills. These skills can be developed through general life experiences but entering an actual work environment shows the employers that you have actually practised these skills. Working part time as a student shows employers that you are able to balance study with your job, which suggests you developed time management and organisations skills. Also, effective time management benefits both your studies and life after university. Working part time forces you to learn how to weigh priorities in order to meet deadlines.

A key aspect employers are looking for applicants to have is commercial awareness in their field. Unfortunately, it isn’t simply watching the recap news but you have to pay a keen interest into world affairs and be familiar with current event especially when preparing for interviews.

Personality

In many applications you may be surprised as to the type of question employers ask, rather than simply focusing on your degree subject, they want to get an insight into who you as a person and if you would be a good fit for their type of company. This is usually assessed through psychometric tests, these tests are designed to measure candidates’ suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and abilities.

It is a great idea to partake in the Lancaster Award as it will allow you to practise for future job applications. The Lancaster Award is a certificate that rewards you for making the most of your time at Lancaster. There are three different levels of the Lancaster Award (Bronze, Silver and Gold); it is up to you which level you aim for. The award will enhance your future employment prospects by encouraging you to undertake extra-curricular activities and acquire new skills and experiences valued by employers. The process requires you to reflect on the skills you have developed during those activities.

Employers want to know what your personal interest are, e.g. talents, sports, being an active member of a society at university etc.  These show employers that there is more to you than the academic side, which is important because in a work place you need to be able to communicate and work with other employees as part of a harmonious work environment. For instance, being part of the executive team of a society shows that you have the ability to be committed and dedicated to a set goal, it also shows you are able to organise, plan and facilitate events.

Take a risk!

Many people shy away from volunteering because it’s unpaid work but this can be a very beneficial use of your time. Take the time out to research charities or causes you are interested and enquire about whether they offer volunteering positions. It could just be for the duration of 1-2 weeks but you will definitely learn something from the experience, even if it’s just the satisfaction of positively affecting someone else’s life. If you want to make the most of your spare time over the holidays you could finally learn that language or partake in that activity that you have been keen on doing.

You don’t have to follow the status quo, there are so many ways to complete a degree nowadays, the traditional route may not be ideal for you. For example, you could choose to do a sandwich degree which is a four-year undergraduate course in which students undertake a placement year, or internship in industry; normally after the second year at university.  Lancaster university also provide opportunities study a year abroad, you can find more information about this on the university website page.

Employers would be intrigued into your reasons for opting for this type of degree and it can give you an advantage over other applicants because you already have a year experience potentially in your chosen field of work.

Overall, if you really want to stand out it is important to think outside the box, think about what will intrigue and impress an employer during an interview. Try new things, don’t limit your capabilities because you are a student and be creative.

Guest Post: Naeem Desai – Life on the Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme

Naeem Desai graduated from MSc Management in 2016. Before even graduating, he had received offers of employment from four of the major graduate recruiters, including a place on the highly competitive Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme. It was this position that he chose to accept, and over the coming months, Naeem will share his experiences of this challenging and fast paced programme.

naeem

I was standing outside the Management School when I got the call from Lidl regarding the outcome of my final interview. I was so nervous, practically shaking as I talked to the recruiter, whilst pacing up and down along the side of the building. I was so eager to hear the decision. I burst into laughter as I was told I had been accepted onto the Graduate Management Development Programme! It felt surreal. It took me days to digest that I got the job I always wanted. All of my hard work had paid off. Here I was, six months later, at the Graduate Welcome Event in London. The two-day event comprised of a comprehensive introduction to the company and the graduate scheme. I was told I would be spending six months in the Regional Distribution Centre, and six months in a high-turnover store, after which I would assume the role of a Graduate Team Manager or Graduate Area Manager. Finally, the wait was over, and I was starting in my region on Monday. I left the event knowing that accepting this position was one of the best decisions I ever made.