Where to work The key to deciding

Rebecca James did her masters in mathematics before joining the Finance Graduate Leadership Programme at Lloyds Banking Group. Here, she shares the secret of discovering where you’d like to work.

Research

I said to myself ‘what do I want from my career?’ and I came up with three answers: good people to work with, an employer who values me as a whole person, and a culture that lets me find the right balance between my work, my studies and my social life. So start your research by asking yourself about your values and interests, and then looking for companies that have similar ones.

It’s a good idea to ask the people around you too. I have family friends who work for Lloyds Banking Group and they told me what a supportive employer it is, so I thought I’d find out for myself by doing a Retail Finance internship. I discovered all the qualities I was interested in an employer over that summer and, at the end of my internship, they offered me a place on the Finance graduate programme.

Try different placements

If you can, take the time to do smaller placements, or try job shadowing. Because Lloyds Banking Group is so diverse, it offers these options and, by spending time with other teams you really work out what you enjoy doing most. This freedom to look around, plus the variety of placements on offer, is helping me to see I’m well suited to analysing data and finding strategic commercial solutions for customers. 

It’s also revealing a new career interest to me. Having recently worked on a social enterprise project, helping a small independent local business understand its tax position, I think my next move may well be into Tax. It’s even more mathematical than what I’m doing at the moment – and that appeals to me. It’s worth looking around a little and trying things out, if you can.

Where do your interests fit in?

I love maths, it’s in my blood. Even at school I was running my own tutoring sessions, helping the others with their maths. I also enjoy working with customers, and did so for several years as a waitress and restaurant manager, too. So, maths, numbers, stats, teamwork – all these things are now part and parcel of my work and my programme and I love it.

Once you know what you’re passionate about and what you value, find out whether the employers you’re interested in offer these things. And it’s not essential that you share all of your interests – I’m also passionate about trumpet but it’s not something I use in my programme!