This summer, History student Katie will join the global service company American Express, before heading back to Southampton to finish her degree. Katie offers some brilliant insight and guidance for fellow Bright Network members.
Why did you choose American Express and the role in particular?
American express was not only a name I recognised, but I learned through Bright Network that it has won awards as a great place to work. This is what was so appealing, American express was still a global company with a matrix structure which would allow plenty of opportunities for me, but its corporate culture (which was confirmed at the assessment centre) was one that was welcoming and inclusive and put me at ease.
The particular role, customer service and business strategy, was something that appealed to me because I love problem solving and working with people and it seemed like an ideal area of work to consider for my skillset. I think it is important to apply for a role you could see yourself enjoying as this was certainly the case for me.
What was the hardest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
I think the hardest part of the application process was the initial application. It was daunting to complete assessments and time-consuming to rework my CV for a more professional role, however, this initial effort pays off in the long run because having a professional, clear and up to date CV will be a key asset to any application.
My favourite part was actually the assessment centre although I didn't think it would be. The team at American Express immediately put us all at ease and although it was a full-day, it wasn't draining, it was actually quite fun!
Were you surprised by anything in the process
I was surprised by two things specifically. Firstly the HireVue interview was unusual for me as you do not have an interviewer, instead you record your web-interviews which are then sent off. This seems strange as you are looking at yourself in the webcam, but if you are prepared in reality it is not that different to any other interview.
Secondly, I was surprised by the relaxed nature of the interviews at the assessment centre, but this was a pleasant surprise! It immediately put me at ease and I believe I performed better since I was much more relaxed.
What three top tips would you give to members looking to follow in your footsteps?
The piece of advice that stuck with me from the day was that "if your interview feels more like a conversation you're probably doing well". I think this conversational style shows that you are relaxed and gives the interviewer to get a chance to understand you as a person- and more importantly a potential colleague!
Secondly, RESEARCH! Do your research on the company before arriving, particularly anything that may be in the news, it helps you demonstrate a genuine interest and proves that you have taken the time to prepare.
Thirdly, it helps to revise your own CV, you've probably completed a lot of your work experience a few months/ years ago and simply recapping it will give you much more material for potential interview questions. However, when you are talking about your experience, focus on what you did, not just the team as a whole.
What was the toughest question you faced at interview
The toughest question was probably "what skills did I want to improve in myself in the next 5 years?" This was interesting because I had to take a moment to think about it in the interview! However, this is fine ,you don't have to have a rehearsed answer ready, you're allowed to have a moment to think.