This is quite unlike any other area of the bank that I’ve experienced. In some ways, it feels more like a tech start-up, with an offshoot in Shoreditch
I’ve always had a fascination for technology and the more I researched it, the more I thought computer science was the degree I wanted to study. As I’m from London, I wanted to go somewhere else in the country and decided on Leicester. Originally, it was going to be a three-year course – but after my second year I took a year-long placement in industry and I ended up being there for four years.
That third year turned out to be quite manic. It started with a summer internship at Barclays which was then immediately followed by the industrial placement at IBM. I then returned to Barclays for another summer internship.
The University of Leicester has a really good careers service. They helped me pull together my resumé, and prepare for interviews and assessment centres. I applied for the internships as soon as I could, knowing that I wanted to gain as much experience as I could before I graduated.
I was torn between whether I wanted a financial career or a technology one, so I applied to both – and by doing a technology placement at Barclays it meant that I could see which path might be right for me.
What I discovered was a diversity of hugely different cultures in Barclays. In the first summer internship, I worked in the corporate part of the bank as a business analyst. For the second one, I worked in the investment bank as a software developer, where I worked with Python, a cutting-edge programming language that helped with my dissertation in my final year.
Before my second summer internship had finished, I was offered a place on the Barclays Graduate Programme. Over the course of that final year in Leicester, we were able to talk about where I could start my career, so I opted for Barclaycard, based in Canary Wharf.
This is quite unlike any other area of the bank that I’ve experienced. In some ways, it feels more like a tech start-up, with an offshoot in Shoreditch – where I spend part of my time. We’re working on advanced data science projects, looking at how we can improve and automate processes – meaning that as a team, we get to work with some of the latest AI and machine learning techniques.
I’ve enjoyed being part of the graduate programme and have developed a really good network. I think there’s a perception out there that banks are too much of an ‘establishment’, but while we might not have the cool factor of tech start-ups or Google or Facebook, I do think that Barclays is an exception.
I was very fortunate to be placed in a team which had been newly formed just a couple of months before I joined, so I’ve seen the team grow and had the chance to work on projects from their inception. At the outset, we had hardly any projects, but now, we’re working on over 20, which are all focused on cutting-edge machine learning.
Something I enjoy is being able to work flexibly – be it from home or at our accelerator space in Shoreditch where I’m based a couple of days a week. The accelerator space is home to numerous fin-tech start-ups and I get the chance to network with them and provide support as they grow.
In terms of the future, I will be working at the forefront of data science and machine learning, building up invaluable knowledge and experience, and looking forward to the potential opportunities that might arise here at Barclays.