How extracurricular activities helped me get a graduate job at Lloyds Banking Group
I didn’t have anything clear in mind about what I wanted to do after university. I knew I wanted to do some more studying after my first degree and I picked a course that I found interesting. During my masters I applied to big companies that would allow me to move into different areas and keep my options open. I knew very little about banking but the advert for Lloyds Banking Group’s retail banking graduate scheme emphasised that it was about getting experience in as many different parts of the bank as possible.
Choosing a technology in banking
Once I was on the graduate scheme and seeing the technological advances that were happening in the finance industry, I started figuring out how I could move into that area and I got a job in analytics after I completed the scheme. I didn’t have a formal technical background so I did a lot of studying in my own time to learn to program and to process data, for example.
At the cutting edge
In my current role I look for ways we can pair robotics with other technologies as part of Lloyds Banking Group’s machine intelligence programme. A typical day involves talking to people in the other labs (a lab is where experiments and development can be undertaken in order to rapidly prove or disprove hypotheses and deliver value to customers and stakeholders) and understanding the needs of the business areas that would use the technologies. This allows us to offer a greater range of services to our customers and increase convenience for them. At the moment we’re investigating whether it’s possible to link robotics to chatbots.
Learning opportunities: training at Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds Banking Group’s graduate scheme made the transition from university to work easier because they allowed for the fact that I was new to the industry and was there to learn. As part of my graduate programme, I had the option of completing a professional qualification; I did the chartered banker diploma. It gave me a good grounding in financial subjects and I had a great support network and even received time off to study when I had exams coming up.
The biggest learning curve was adjusting my expectations of how much could be achieved in a day. At university it’s all down to you, whereas at work you have to be patient because you rely on lots of other people. While on the graduate scheme, I was involved in making changes to and simplifying an existing system for more user ease and accessibility. During this project I faced many challenges, but I was able to talk to my line manager, mentor and buddy throughout, which meant I had constant support from a range of colleagues when I needed it.
While I hadn’t done any internships before applying to Lloyds Banking Group, I had had positions of responsibility outside of my degree. I was club captain for my college’s rugby team, which involved organising the logistics. I was also previously the publicity officer for Nightline; in this role I was responsible for raising awareness of the service and running recruitment weekends. I also took part in a mentoring programme called Moneythink: teaching financial concepts such as how bank accounts and mortgages work to children in local schools.
A variety of different experiences are valuable, but what matters more than the range is that you can articulate what you learned from them. My proactivity helped me stand out when applying to Lloyds Banking Group; they saw that I’d gone out of my way to develop skills such as organisation, listening and relating to different groups of people. I hadn’t been through an assessment centre before so I went to a few mock assessment centres at university, which were good practice. By the time I got to Lloyds Banking Group’s assessment centre I actually enjoyed it and it wasn’t that scary!