We caught up with Thomas, a Politics & International Relations student from the University of Bath, who landed an industrial placement with leading bank, UBS. Here he shares his top tips for securing a sought-after position with this top graduate employer.
It may seem unusual to take on an industrial placement in banking while studying a politics degree but after enrolling in a few economics modules, I discovered a real passion for the world of finance. But before committing to this career path, I was keen to gain practical experience in the sector.
I met a range of firms during the Bath Placement Fair – this was a brilliant opportunity to speak to undergraduates who’d just finished their industrial placement and hear first-hand what life is really like at these companies.
UBS appealed to me as it’s a big name in the banking world - with an edge. As a Swiss bank it operates outside of the EU, while still maintaining close ties with the union. It’s also known for its culture – I’m part of the Asset Management intern football team, which has helped me get to know colleagues on a personal not just professional basis.
How to ace the application process
The first step of my application process involved completing the online application form. Early in your career, it’s normal to have limited experience – don’t worry if this is a little sparse. However do try to build up as much experience as you can, even if it is a couple of days shadowing someone in a local business. This demonstrates your genuine interest in the sector and gives you tangible examples to talk about during your interview.
A numerical reasoning test came next. The only piece of advice I have for this is practice, practice, practice. There are plenty of good, free resources online which will ensure you’re feeling confident by the time you do it for real.
Similarly, it’s really important to prepare for the interview. My interview with UBS was focused on my competencies – most interviews tend to be. There are lots of examples of competency questions online – seek them out and perfect your answers.
I would also recommend building up your industry knowledge, as well as general commercial awareness. But accept that you won’t know everything. The most important thing is to be honest and show a real willingness to learn – for example, ask the interviewer to explain a term you don’t understand and make notes so you don’t forget the answer.
And don’t forget the little things such as the importance of eye contact and smiling when you enter the room.
At assessment centre there is usually one person louder than the others, who always tries to speak as much as possible. Don’t be that person and don’t be put off by them either. Remember - the recruiters are looking for teamwork, listening and presentation skills, as well as confidence.
Use your time at university wisely
There are endless opportunities to build up your CV while at university, whether you get involved in a sports club, become a society committee member or take on part-time work.
These extracurricular interests are also important in the final stage of the application process – by this point, everyone is capable of doing the job. What sets you apart is your personality, hobbies and interests. Make sure you have plenty to talk about.
Your university careers service is another valuable asset at university. They offer a range of opportunities to help you develop your professional skills - from CV writing advice to mock interviews with real recruiters. And you never know what might come of it - I heard about a fellow student who was offered a real interview off the back of an impressive practice one.
Explore a world of opportunity at UBS - from industrial placements to gradaute schemes, on their employer profile.