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.

 

Innovation Hackathon in Lancaster University

As an MSc student in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC), I got to explore several modules which related to technology and business. I also have the opportunity to choose optional modules based on my interest. For me personally, I am really interested in online marketing and innovation in IT to create better solution in business, and the module which answered my question for this is E-Marketing module.

Though this module is optional for ITMOC student, it is a mandatory module for MSc E-Business and Innovation student. Some Marketing Analytics students also took this class as an optional module, thus it is an amazing opportunity for me to know various insights about E-Marketing from students from different background. One of the most interesting parts about the class was the opportunity for students to join Innovation Hackathon, an intensive 2-day program where we had to solve a real-life business case with the opportunity to consult with and present to experts in the industry! The hackathon was held in March, I know it is a bit late for me to share the story here. Yet, I believe that the experience was really worth it and I might say that I learned a lot during the program. Hackathon itself is a word created from hack and marathon, an event where people work together and use technology to transform ideas into reality. We tried to solve the problem with the use of technology and the teams consisted of students from various background (IT, business, marketing, etc.).

The theme of the hackathon was Smart Park, where we had to create an IoT solution for the Lake District National Park. IoT stands for Internet of Things, a technology which optimises connected devices with the use of sensors to collect and exchange data. One of example of IoT is Smart Cities with connected traffic signals that monitor utility use or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied. Smartwatches or fitness bands to track steps or heartbeat while on a run for healthcare needs are also part of IoT technology.

During the hackathon, we had to propose the solution on how to make Lake District National Park… a Smart Park. Things that we need to remember was to create a simple, feasible and profitable solution while at the same time can give business values in a long run. All teams can explore the opportunity to solve the problem from various point-of-view. During the program, experts from IBM, Huawei and from Lake District will provide us with input throughout our brainstorming session. I might say that the program was superrrr intensive and stressful! We had to work with people from various background, listened to everyone’s opinion and we also need to satisfy business needs from the stakeholders in only 2 days!

At the end of the 2-days session, all 6 teams which participated in the hackathon needs to present the solution in front of the stakeholders. My team offered a solution to prevent and monitor erosion in Lake District National Park, we named it Smart Path.  This solution came up after we realised that Lake District needs to spent a lot of budget to maintain eroded path and it also can lead to damage and habitat loss. We offered a solution of IoT implementation to monitor and detect activities on the footpath and analytics will provide data about preventative steps to maintain footpath/recommendation on maintenance. After the presentation, we got some inputs from the experts and we believe it was really helpful.

To close the hackathon, the experts chose the winner. My team did not win the competition but the most important thing is that we learned a lot and got the opportunity to work in a challenging case 🙂 The team who won offered Smart Bicycle Path, a B2B solution which track bicycle movements around the park and then analyse the data to be sold to another business (i.e restaurants, insurance, etc.). On the other hand, the data also can be used by Lake District National Park to maintain and improve customers experience in the park.

Congrats for the winner!

The 2-days session was full of pressure and stress, but with the help from teammate and the experts we can delivered the result on time. Special thanks for Professor Juliana Sutanto (E-Marketing Course Convenor and MSc E-Business and Innovation) and Professor Edward Truch for the support. And of course thank you Lancaster University for the opportunity!

All Participants for Smart Park Hackathon