Bright Network member Danni has recently completed an internship with HSBC, and was happy to tell us a bit about it after coming to Bright Network Women in Leadership 2017. She’ll be returning to Queen Mary University of London to complete her second year of studying Economics in October 2017.
What initially attracted you to the internship, and why HSBC?
There are a limited number of internships for first year students, and the first-year internship at HSBC offers you experience across two of its largest business areas, retail banking and commercial banking. HSBC itself is a well-known global company, so I was attracted to their internship in particular as I hoped I would be able to learn about some of the global opportunities within a large bank. Also, due to the large number of offices that HSBC have around the UK, they are able to place their interns all over the country, which means there are no relocation or accommodation costs for you, and you can work with local businesses that you may be familiar with in your area.
Did you enjoy the internship, and what did you learn from it?
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, especially the networking events where we were able to meet other interns, and also senior members of staff at the bank to hear about their experience. I learnt a lot about the different sectors in banking (of which there are many!) and how they all work together to support businesses and individuals. I also learnt a lot about the graduate scheme at HSBC, and the opportunities that you have if you join the bank after you finish your degree.
How did you find the application process and how did you prepare for it?
I was very lucky as HSBC has a very friendly approach to interviews and assessment centres. They eased me into the telephone interview with a friendly chat, and on the assessment centre there were only around 8 of us there, and we had a graduate mentor who guided us through the day, showed us around the office and really put us at ease. The hardest part for me was the written exam, however. As I was one of the later applicants I had rather short notice for the assessment centre; most people have a conference call explaining the various parts of the assessment centre to them, and so were more prepared for a written exam. I prepared by researching all about HSBC and their values, and answering practice questions with my friends, for example: 'how have you demonstrated leadership skills?'
What bright advice would you give to other Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
Definitely try to get some experience over the summer, as it is really helpful in knowing what area you may want to work in in the future. If possible, it's better to apply early to things like internships, but don't be put off if you haven't applied early, as I didn't apply until January and I was still lucky enough to be given a place. Also, be yourself in interviews, and try and relax if you can, because interviewers can tell when you are being genuine, and your ideas are likely to flow more freely when you are at ease.
How did the Women in Leadership event help inform your decisions on what career path you might like to take in the future?
Despite having done much of my own online research into different financial sectors over the summer, I was still a little confused about careers in various financial sectors, and how they linked together. The Women in Leadership event really helped me to understand the different areas and opportunities available to me, the skills that you need for them, and a whole host of other things, such as career progression, work/life balance, and qualifications that could be useful in each sector.
Anything else you'd like to add?
When I first started researching my career options, I thought it was important to get as much experience as you can to make yourself stand out as an applicant. Whilst this is useful, I have now realised that work experience and internships are an opportunity for you to see where you fit in a company, if at all. It's 100 times more valuable getting experience in a field you enjoy and have an interest in, so I would highly recommend taking some time to research your own interests before applying, and not just applying to the same things as all your friends!