Work experience in Banking
Why is it important for me to get finance work experience/internships?
- It’s an opportunity to try out the financial services industry and see whether an employer and/or a type of job role is right for you.
- It’s an opportunity for you to network and make contacts that could help you in your future career.
- It could smooth your way into a graduate job with the employer: most financial services firms – from insurance companies to banks – aim to hire 60–90% of their interns. At some employers you’ll skip most of the recruitment process and go straight to interview. At others, you might be offered a job straight away.
- Even if you don’t get (or don’t accept) an offer from your internship company, your work experience will boost your other graduate job applications. Graduate recruiters love candidates to have industry-related work experience: it provides evidence of your commitment to the sector and suggests that you have made a considered career choice, based on the experience of having worked in the field.
- In this competitive graduate market, most of your graduate competition will have finance-related work experience.
What types of retail banking, insurance and financial services work experience are available?
The work experience options at retail banks, regulatory and insurance firms include:
- Insight programmes: these are usually for first years. Some retail banks, such as Barclays Retail & Business Banking, have started offering ‘taster’ days for first years (and second years on four-year courses) to try out the work.
- Industry placement years: targeted at those who take a year-in-industry as part of their degree, which is a 12-month contract offered by most financial services employers.
- Summer internships: these are usually for penultimate-year students and typically last for six to 12 weeks during the summer holidays. Most financial services firms, including the Financial Conduct Authority, Aon, HSBC and Nationwide, offer these.
- Ongoing internships: some retail banking and insurance organisations, such as Aviva, will provide internship opportunities as and when there is a business need for them.
- Ad hoc shorter periods of work experience: some employers, including Aviva, offer some more informal work experience for a week or two. This type of opportunity may not be paid.
When should I apply for financial services internships?
Vacancies for most work experience opportunities open around September/October and close in December the year before you want to start work experience. A few firms have closing dates in January and a few more will advertise vacancies on an ad hoc basis, so keep an eye on targetjobs.co.uk and employers’ websites. Aon is among those that close applications for their internship when the vacancies are filled, so apply as soon as you can once the programme opens for applications.
How do I apply for retail banking and insurance internships and placement years?
Typically, would-be interns apply via the same application system as applicants for graduate vacancies – although it may be a little shorter. Bear in mind that you will typically apply for a specific vacancy in a specific department, so you will have to have some idea of what type of job you’d like to do.
Any tips on applying for internship vacancies in finance?
Although recruiters won’t expect the same amount of knowledge or experience as they do of candidates for their graduate schemes, they will be looking for the same skills, attributes and application techniques as they do from graduate candidates so follow the graduate application advice on TARGETjobs Finance:
Think about your skills and how they might be relevant to the role you’re applying for. These can come from any part-time jobs and extracurricular activities. Recruiters like to see applicants who have done their research and can explain why they are interested in a career in this sector. Academic qualifications alone won’t get you a place – it’s important to show that you have an aptitude for the business. Make sure you keep up to date with what’s going on in the world by reading the business press and not just on the day of your interview. There’s no point in saying ‘I’m passionate about retail banking’ and then not being able to answer a question like ‘What's the current base rate?’
What does an internship involve at retail banks and insurance firms?
Internships and placement years are structured and purposely designed to give you an insight into the work. However, the work you will be given to do will also have real benefit to the business. Internships usually begin with an initial training programme or induction. Then your tasks may include some analysis work, IT testing or researching a market, depending on the division you’re in.