Huge congratulations to Lucy who worked as an intern for Bank of America Merrill Lynch last summer and went on to secure a graduate role with BAML! We recently caught up with Lucy and asked her about her experience working for BAML and what advice she would give to new interns.
How did you secure this graduate role with BAML?
I was offered the role at the end of the 10-week long internship. During my internship, I worked on a variety of different projects throughout my time in compliance. I had ownership over the projects I completed, and it felt great knowing the work I produced would be utilised by the team.
Aside from the work I received on the desk, we took part in learning sessions for interns across all divisions. The topics ranged from specific product training, to soft skills development. This was a valuable opportunity to learn more about areas of the financial industry that I wouldn’t necessarily have been exposed to in my specific area. It was also a chance to network with other interns and find out more about their experiences.
One of my favourite aspects of my intern experience was the six-week Innovation Project that ran parallel to programme of specific work. We were presented with a problem a charity was facing and tasked with pitching a creative solution to it with our teams. During this I was able to practise our presentation skills in front of industry experts and it taught me about division wide communication within a large corporation.
What have been the highlights of your first few months with BAML?
My highlight so far has definitely been our trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit the bank’s headquarters and network with other graduates from different regions.
How did you find the Bright Network Festival?
I attended the Bright Network Festival, which was a great way to meet a huge variety of different companies and network with likeminded students. I really enjoyed the variety of different sessions that were available; from informal networking to soft skills sessions. My favourite session was from a career coach, who outlined the five most common assessment centre mistakes. They offered a complimentary career consulting session to those who attended the talk, which was incredibly useful as it enabled me to narrow my field of focus. I would advise attendees to this year’s festival to attend the talks as well as using the fair to network, as I got so much from the experience when I combined the two.
What can students do while they’re at university to make their application stand out?
I would advise them to continue to do what they enjoy, but find a positive and impactful way you can use your experiences to further your career. For example, if you enjoy swimming, don’t just attend the training sessions, see what leadership role you could take within the committee. If you enjoy attending debates, offer to chair one. Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it may not feel like all these small steps make a difference now, but it’s so useful to have a plethora of different experiences to use in an interview situation.
My second piece of advice would be to utilise whatever exposure you are able to get, because this leads to other opportunities. Without attending insight days or Spring weeks during my first year of university I wouldn’t have had as much leverage when applying for my internship the next year. It’s also a great way to hear about different companies and meet so many interesting people.
I would also advise students to not leave all the “career stuff” to third year. The foundations for what you do following university is laid in your first and second year, so start looking for events and courses you can attend as soon as you can to allow you to enjoy your third year of university (relatively) stress free!
What three tips would you give to new interns on their first day?
- Build your own personal brand. I would recommend doing a strengths based test if your employer offers this to help you achieve your goals. This will help you present the best person you can be each and every day.
- Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. Even if someone else has done a million internships, you deserve to be there as much as they do.
- Network, network, network! Obviously, you won’t do all the networking you need to do on the first day, but it’s great to practise with fellow interns where the stakes aren’t as high, and it sets the tone nicely for the rest of the internship
What was the hardest interview question you faced in the application process?
Honestly, the questions were mainly competency based, I did not have one specific “hard” question that springs to mind. I would definitely recommend having a good think about how some experiences you’ve had can be applied to competencies, but success in an interview depends on your ability to come across calmly and confidently; the more prepared you feel the more natural this will come.