Joe Baldwin, a Chemistry student at Bristol, shares his experience as a Commercial Banking Summer Intern at HSBC.
My time as an HSBC Intern started as I expect it does for many, concerned about possibility of not having a job to go to after graduation. My search for an internship wasn’t about finding the perfect internship, as I didn’t know what this would be. I wanted to get a flavour of the jobs available to chemists – one that doesn’t involve lab coats and safety goggles.
How did I get the internship?
I started by researching career paths available and narrowed these down to specific programmes and companies, HSBC being a clear highlight on that list. The application process for the HSBC Global Commercial Banking Internship Programme comprised of three stages: online tests; video interview; and assessment centre.
The first stage, an online psychometric test involving a series of realistic, work place scenarios followed by questions.
The second stage was a job simulation in the form of a video interview. My previous experience with video interviews wasn’t positive and resulted in me feeling unnatural and awkward in front of the camera. However, with a bit of practice it became more natural and less awkward.
The third and final stage was the assessment centre and was the opportunity for HSBC to see who I am and how I interacted with others. My two pieces of advice for any assessment centre is to a) be yourself and b) go prepared. As students we’re used to spending endless nights in the library preparing for an exam and, in my view, you shouldn’t treat preparing for an assessment centre any differently.
What did I do?
Passing all three stages meant I was accepted onto the programme in Bristol. It was made clear that the general theme of the internship wasn’t to complete as much work as possible, or to make the most coffee. But instead to learn as much as possible about the different functional areas within commercial banking by growing our professional networks. My 3 most memorable projects were:
1. Examining how AI can be used to streamline banking. As a team, we had to research the topic, write a report and give a presentation to HSBC’s head of AI.
2. Working as a team to shoot and edit a video that showcased banking, and in particular HSBC, to Generation Z. Having a previous interest in videography meant I took on the role of Project Manager. The video was a great success, the finished film an instant hit and we were awarded “Best Video”.
3. Spending the day at HSBC tower. Having grown up in Greenwich, the Canary Wharf skyline was an all too common sight and made seeing my house from the 42nd floor all the more memorable. We received talks from graduates and senior bank members, including a global head of department. Gaining this exposure was something that I didn’t expect at the start of the internship and was really valuable.
What did I gain?
My internship gave me a solid grounding in what a large multinational company like HSBC has to offer, but my soft skills have improved enormously as well. Even if I eventually choose not to go down the financial services route, this valuable improvement to my skill set will strengthen my CV and keep me in good stead when applying for jobs in any sector.
Go for it and give it your all. The application process can be a bit daunting, and during the Christmas holiday I’m sure that I gained an inch in skin thickness with all the rejections that I had received! But I got an internship, it was well worth it, and I’d do it again in an instant. No two internships are identical, and I was pleasantly surprised by the range of projects that I was involved in.