Can you secure a fintech job without a computer science background?
Think you have the aptitude and interests for a career in finance or technology but the wrong degree to impress recruiters? With the right skills and talent, you could be just the person they’re looking for!
When it comes to securing jobs in financial technology, software development and coding there is one common preconception: that you need a degree in computer science or your application and CV won’t get a second glance. That idea leaves you with a dilemma – should you enrol on a masters or second degree, or recalibrate and start on a different career path? Not all technology companies are the same, though.
Software engineers, analysts and consultants traditionally come from science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) backgrounds – or have studied a dedicated course in IT. Today top tech employers recognise that diverse thinkers build strength and breadth, bringing skills that make their products distinctive. As a global software and financial services company, Alfa is shaking up the approach to recruitment and basing job offers on potential, not just past studies. It could spell the end of the frustrating ‘no tech experience, no job – no job, no tech experience’ cycle.
Show your enthusiasm
That’s not to say securing a job in fintech is easy. To fit Alfa’s brief, you will still need an excellent academic record, a 2.1 degree or above and As and Bs at A level, or the equivalent. You should also display a genuine interest in tech and finance. Geography and history students, biomedical specialists and creatives have all forged rewarding careers at Alfa. The company specialises in asset finance software and is known for its world-leading platform, Alfa Systems, which is trusted by internationally renowned organisations. New starters who have some programming experience tend to get on best, according to Alfa’s recruiters, Polly Browne and Cat Dickson, but a computer science degree isn’t a must-have by any means.
‘We don’t expect candidates to have much, if any, experience working in a software engineering or consulting environment. Candidates that do well are those who are able to draw upon and give examples of their experiences when they give answers,’ says Cat.
Polly and Cat agree student and graduate jobseekers should also think of unrelated work or uni experiences that give them an edge. It’s worth talking about times when you have dealt with demanding customers in your summer job, for example, or shown commitment to a team or society.
So if the new generation of software engineers, analysts, consultants and project managers gets drawn from a wide educational pool, what might they all have in common? The right attitude will get you noticed, says Polly, who wants to hear what applicants have done to spark their interest in tech. Maybe you taught yourself to code during lockdown, or studied YouTube videos to improve your blog. Did you find yourself fascinated by the IT department during an internship, or work on a student society website and get interested in its functionality?
Skills to succeed at Alfa
Star performers bring a suite of competencies to interviews and assessment days so give yourself a head start by checking out targetjobs’ tips pages . Attributes that will help you shine at Alfa include:
- strong communication skills
- ability to use initiative
- logical thinking
- good problem solving
- attention to detail
- an enthusiasm for life-long learning
- being able to work as part of a team.
Polly has a number of dos and don’ts for a successful interview, such as:
- don’t ramble but do show a good level of detail in your answers
- do display how you think differently
- do think aloud so recruiters can see how you solve problems
- don’t be afraid to ask relevant questions of your interviewers.
Core values and culture
Many graduates say they want their values to align with the company they work for. If that is important to you, the employer’s website or blog is the place to find information on its culture and communities. Questions to ask yourself might start with, does the company have an inclusive policy and recruit from diverse backgrounds? Look for a corporate and social responsibility (CSR) statement; does the company have green teams that look for ways to improve its environmental and sustainable practices, is it family-friendly, do LGBTQ+ and racial equality communities get a say in its policies? Read about social impact at Alfa.
If you want to find out more about Alfa’s approach and feel you would be a good fit for its graduate programmes, you might find its downloadable brochure for students and graduates useful. The company could have a career in technology waiting for you.
You have a job offer! What’s next?
Prepare for some intensive training and hard work. Typically new recruits start with an induction week which will familiarise you with the company and culture, and how it operates as a business. This forms part of the ten weeks’ initial training, which is the foundation of your career according to Cat. Recruits learn the fundamentals of coding together, attending a six-day Java bootcamp to ensure everyone is brought up to the same level. Besides technology and how its product (Alfa Systems) works and is used by clients, the induction gives you a safe space to practise your new-found knowledge with lots of support at hand while you learn.
Most companies rotate graduate recruits through different departments to help determine which roles will suit them best. At Alfa, expect to spend time in both software engineering and implementation teams, even if you think you already know what you like and will do well at. A software developer might have strong technical skills while a consultant excels at interpersonal matters, but your particular strengths may lie in a role you have never considered beforehand. Former graduate trainees, project managers and technical architects, client account directors and senior executives will all shape your development over your early career.
With clients based across the world and the City of London, you can forge a global career in technology at Alfa. Its industry-leading financial software platform, Alfa Systems, is used by a client list that reads like a UK300 who’s who – Bank of America, Mercedes Benz Financial Services and Santander, to name just three. The company offers employees ongoing learning opportunities, with internal courses in technical design, change management and five days a year set aside for career development.
Quick facts about Alfa
- Established in 1990
- 360 employees worldwide
- World-leading products in 26 countries
- Investors in People award since 2003
About the industry
Asset finance is a global industry that enables a company or individual to benefit from an asset without paying for it in full straightaway. A typical example includes vehicle finance, which allows people to drive a new car while making regular payments in return. Larger schemes cover high-cost assets such as aircraft and satellites, but other assets could include a laptop, computer or mobile phone.