Graduate jobs in finance: advice from recent recruits
Earlier this year, TARGETjobs City & Finance and the UK 300 spoke with seven graduates working at a range of financial services organisations to get their views on breaking into the industry. Each shared with us words of careers advice about work experience, perseverance, recruiters’ requirements, application forms and much more to help university students get into finance.
Lamiaa Chaabi is an analyst within the portfolio analytics group at BlackRock. She studied computer science at University College London and completed a master’s degree in risk and finance at the London School of Economics afterwards. She also did internships at finance organisations, including BlackRock.
Lamiaa says: ‘I attended a lot of careers fairs, which allowed me to learn about the different corporates and their teams. Looking back, I think I could have gained a deeper understanding by socialising and networking more. If you meet someone at a careers event and want to know more about what they’re doing then take them out for a coffee; you will get a real insight if you are both taken out of a professional context.
‘If you’re seeking an IT role, try to have some basic knowledge of coding, as it will help you to use technology more effectively. There are lots of resources online so you can teach yourself. It shows employers that you have gone the extra mile and are passionate about learning.’ These are some of the programming languages and technical skills that IT recruiters want graduates to have.
Eliot Buckner is an analyst in his second year at Morgan Stanley. He studied management sciences at Loughborough University. He spent his third year, an industrial placement, working at Morgan Stanley, and before that did two separate placements at a local accountancy firm.
Eliot says: ‘Try to get a range of experience so you can demonstrate on your CV and in interviews that you have the necessary skills for the role you are applying for. It’s not just about having an internship in an investment bank. Don’t dismiss low-paid work experience in, say, a local accountancy firm in favour of a higher paid job in a cafe. I was paid the minimum wage in my first job, but the experience I gained helped me to get into my current role. Lastly, have interests, hobbies and achievements that make you stand out and be prepared to show your enthusiasm for them.’
Fatima Abukar is a technology analyst at the Bank of England (BoE). She studied computer science at Queen Mary University of London. She has obtained a foundation certificate in IT service management. Before Fatima started at the BoE, she did work experience at British Petroleum in the IT&S department and took part in the Google Top Black Talent programme for two consecutive years.
Fatima says: ‘Work hard and don’t doubt yourself. No matter what situation you are in, dream big. I think it’s also important to maintain a good work/life balance, ensuring you get enough time away from your studies and enjoy university.’
Fabio Faltoni is a ReMATCH sales and business developer at ICAP. He studied an MSc in finance at Grenoble Graduate School of Business and a BSc in international economics, management and finance at Bocconi University. He did a three-month internship at ICAP and a short stint at a trading/broking house in New York before joining ICAP in a full-time, permanent role.
Fabio says: ‘Be yourself. You don’t need to pretend to be someone you think recruiters are looking for. Those who have been in the industry for years will see right through that; they’re looking for people with genuine enthusiasm for the position and company. Attend careers fairs at your university and ask questions. The people who are at the stands are often the ones who may interview you or recommend you to HR if they see potential in you.’
Gina Robinson is an actuarial trainee at Mercer. She studied maths at the University of Oxford. She completed an eight-week summer internship at Mercer before joining as a graduate.
Gina says: ‘Make an effort to socialise and get to know your colleagues, especially when first starting, then they will be more willing to help you out at work. It also makes the whole experience more enjoyable.’
Yann Schuermans is an institution investors associate at the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). He studied international management at the University of Manchester. He combined his studies with internships in the UK, Budapest and Hong Kong, and attended finance conferences and open evenings, including one at the LSEG.
Yann says: ‘Don’t be afraid to try different options. It feels as if all my experiences have brought me to a point where I’m now on the right career path for me. Think about what interests you and what would make you happy day to day. Eventually you’ll find something you’re passionate about.’
Katy Rashbrook is a casualty claims adjuster at XL Catlin. She studied English and French at the University of Nottingham. She recently obtained the Chartered Insurance Institute’s advanced diploma in insurance through her job.
Katy says: ‘Put thought into your job applications to align your statements to the values and business of your chosen company. Explain how your work and personal experiences demonstrate your skills and achievements. Be open-minded about career options – talk to people about their jobs and see how you might fit in in a similar role or organisation. Show commercial awareness and do research beforehand. In addition, gain some work experience and be enthusiastic and confident.’
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