Bright Network member Eno recently secured a summer internship with Barclays. Eno is a student at Lancaster University and has been kind enough to share the stories of his success. As a thank you for sharing his story, we were delighted to give him a bottle of champagne to celebrate...
Please tell us about the internship you are about to join
I will be completing a summer internship with Barclays Personal and Corporate Banking (PCB) which integrates some of their successful business divisions namely: Retail and Business Banking, Corporate Banking and Wealth and Investment Management. It is a rotational programme, to help you become a fully rounded industry specialist, with the potential to lead and shape the Barclays of the future.
Why did you choose this company and role?
I am a football fanatic, so I always knew of Barclays through their sponsorship of the premier league. My initial thought was that working at Barclays could mean free football tickets. However in the process of applying, I learned a lot more about the company, and learned that they had far more to offer than possible football tickets.
This is an organisation that truly cherishes its values: Respect, Integrity, Service, Stewardship and Excellence are the bank's pillars, and you will see these values everywhere, from their website, offices, and even their email signatures, these values are at the heart of Barclays and this really impressed me.
It was also clear to me that these values were not just paid strong lip service, but rather I saw them for myself during the recruitment process.
Everyone I dealt with was very friendly, and my own homework on the bank further attested compliance to their values. The bank is a good corporate citizen and I felt that I would fit well into their culture.
Please tell us about the application process - what did you have to do?
The application process was a standardised five stage process, beginning with CV submission. I then had to complete an online numerical test, and on passing this I completed a telephone interview. I then attended an Assessment Centre, following which I was fortunate enough to receive an offer.
What did you find was the most difficult part of the application process?
I would say the group activities at the Assessment Centre. Everything regarding the application is within your own hands, however to do well on the group exercises you need the help of your colleagues. Given what is at stake, it’s quite scary that someone else's performance could have an impact on you.
Therefore I found that to be the hardest part. Issues like when should you speak, when should you lead, when should you stick to your point or adapt your ideas and follow the group.
Teamwork is very important so it’s all about striking the right balance. This aspect of the recruitment process had the most variables to contend with, hence its difficulty.
What was the most enjoyable part of the application process?
Face to face interviews. One question I was asked was 'what would be your dream job, if realism was not an issue'? My response was that 'I would spend my days lounging around in exotic locations and only be called by the bank when the stakes were extremely high. When a big deal needed closing, I would be flown in, Private jet of course, and close the deal.' My interviewer laughed, to which I responded 'you did say dream job.’ I had fun, and also realised that the interview is not there to trip you up. It’s literally a conversation, so that they can get to know you better. Be yourself, relax and enjoy it.
How did you prepare for the application process?
I read the bank's financial statements from 2013 to track their progress. I read everything on their website, copied and pasted it on word, and summarised the relevant bits to my role. I watched all the relevant videos on their careers section to get an idea of the company culture.
I added bankers from LinkedIn and asked them for some advice, (be advised that you should not expect many replies, even if they accept your connection request). I read the FT and BBC. I would strongly suggest doing thorough research on the UK economy online.
In particular, I found the stories on the BBC were short yet comprehensive, and gave you a pretty good overview. I did well over 1000 numerical questions (bear in mind each test has about 30 questions). My numerical skills are not as strong as my other abilities, so I spent months doing practice tests every day to help me consistently perform well on these tests.
What top three tips would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
Tip 1: Do your homework
Be diligent, read around your programme, read the financial statements pertaining to your company of choice, reach out to employees on LinkedIn. Be Sherlock or Watson, it doesn't matter, so long as you know your company of interest inside out. I do not recommend scripting answers for the interview.
Instead be flexible and know, no matter what they ask you, there is a sound bank of knowledge you can draw upon. Also be sure to do research on yourself! Why do you want this job, how does this match your future aspirations, why this company, and why would you be a good fit. Know yourself first, then get to know the company.
Tip 2: Believe in yourself
Be confident at interview - You made it to the final round, be happy and take pride in your achievement. There is one more round to go, but you have successfully completed previous rounds, so you know you can do it. Keep the faith and trust in your proven abilities.
Tip 3: Be social
Engage with your fellow assessment centre colleagues. These are smart people who also made it to the final round. Networking with them is a good idea regardless of the outcome. Also, when you get to the group work stage of the process, it makes it a lot easier when you all respect one another.