Julie recently secured a place on the Explore programme at Nomura –a top global Investment Bank. She was able to take some time out from studying Law at BPP to discuss her experience and pass on her advice to other members.
Why did you choose this role?
I wanted to do a Spring Week because it’s definitely the best route into the industry for someone who’s on the ball. Fundamentally, if you know you want to be in the investment banking industry sector before beginning your first year then you know to go for a Spring Week. It’s essentially getting your foot in the door early and securing a full time job well before you even graduate.
I chose Nomura because of its people. I managed to meet analysts all the way up to a number of managing directors across the divisions of Global Markets and Investment Banking and I noticed they were all genuinely friendly, helpful and happy to give me tailored advice on the spot.
The approachability and characteristically amicable culture of the workforce at a company would draw anyone towards it. This is why it's important to participate in open days and insight schemes like to this; to figure out whether or not it is a path worth pursuing.
Can you tell us a bit about the application process?
For the Explore programme, it was initially a one page CV, cover letter, and a series of motivational questions, followed by an interview. I found that it is crucial to read through everything once you’re done and ask yourself; “Does this look like anyone else could have written this?”
If it does look generic at first sight then don’t expect good news; basically you need to equip the cover letter with a distinguishing factor. Also, researching the company is vital to the success of your application.
How did you prepare for the application process?
Again, you must research, research, research! Go beyond the homepage and remember that firms often have more than one website. I used their graduate employment pages and also the Bright Network advice pages.
I began with the Bright Network Commercial Awareness update (which comes right to my email) and went on to read everything I could on: the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business and The Financial Times.
You need to get more than one viewpoint to get a balanced opinion. Also, Bright Network’s help desk provided great advice on making my answers to motivational questions more focused and helped me stand out.
What part of the process did you find the most difficult?
The part that took the most time was preparing my research, particularly making sure I understood the company and everything they had going on.
What part of the process did you most enjoy?
The interview was absolutely lovely, I got immediate feedback and was able to ask all the pressing questions I was eager to get answers to; by the end I had an even more in-depth understanding of the company.
How did Bright Network help?
When I went to Bright Network: First Year Lawyers it helped me exhibit and test my communication and networking skills. For instance, I was chatting with several senior partners from top City law firms and got a taste of what it’s like to interview with senior employers.
Meeting with those partners and answering those questions essentially worked as a practice interview for me, and of course the more you practice you have, the better you can perform in any case.
What three tips would you give for someone following in your footsteps?
Tip 1: Be honest with yourself
It’s important to understand what you want early on because this helps you get ahead. You’ll be in a much better position if you have set out your goals on your own personal ‘inner scorecard’, as per Buffett.
Tip 2: Be proactive
You reap what you sow. Never cower from a challenge and never be afraid to put yourself out there.
Tip 3: Don’t be a sheep
Generic cover letters should be the furthest thing from your mind. If you can remove ‘Nomura’ and put another bank's name in there then you have not added your distinguishing factor.
Thank you to Julie for sharing her experience with us, she also then went on to secure a Spring Internship with J.P. Morgan.