Guest blog by Leanne Snipper (BA Geography 2007) who is a Senior Risk Manager at BNY Mellon:
Choosing the organisation you want to work for is as equally important as the job you are responsible for. It’s easy to forget that your working life takes up a large proportion of each day and therefore your future happiness is just as important as salary, status or the subject matter you deal with in your role. Do your homework on the organisation not only to impress at interview, but also to ensure that the culture, mind set and employee initiatives are well placed for you. These positive attributes in the organisation I work for (BNY Mellon) are the things that help me feel motivated each day to be the best that I can be at work. It is easy when faced with exams and job applications at university to focus so diligently on getting the role that ‘on paper’ may look to be the most popular – for example, in my world a lot of graduates aspire to be a trader. There are many other roles within a bank that could be considered (I am a Senior Risk Manager), and I would imagine that would be the case in most industries. You may find that your skillset will shine brightest on the lesser trodden path…and a natural flair and willingness to an unanticipated role, in an environment where you feel like you can grow comfortably, is an excellent recipe for success.
Internships are a great way of testing this out, but they can often be competitive to secure – so don’t necessarily limit yourself to the formal programmes. I worked through university at a retail bank as a cashier, and whilst that did not seem directly relevant at the time to my current role in finance (the purpose was mainly to earn some extra money to pay for all those expensive books!), it actually gave me a well-grounded foundation that interviewers have positively commented on ever since. The main thing to remember is not to get disheartened if you see those around you securing the most publicised internships, ‘think outside the box’ and work out another way ‘in’ – perhaps that means just not in the biggest organisation out there. At the very least keep your network wide at university; you never know when you will come across a new friend on campus that has a relative in the industry who can guide you as to what you should be concentrating on to get into your chosen field. Sometimes the best advice and wisdom can come from the most unexpected connections – so get to know everyone and help each other as undergraduates as much as possible to share information!