Mariza de Souza is a 4th year physics student at Imperial College London. Having completed both a spring week and summer internship at Credit Suisse, Mariza will join the investment bank in a graduate role next summer.
What made you decide to pursue a career in finance?
When I started my degree, I thought I wanted to do physics after I graduated, but as I studied I came to realise that it wasn't actually something I wanted to do every day for the rest of my life. So I began looking round for other things.
Credit Suisse sponsored my university choir, and they wanted some of the female choir members to attend a women's recruitment dinner they were having. I went along and was struck by how everyone there from Credit Suisse seemed to enjoy their job. They were really enthusiastic about what they were doing which I found extremely appealing, as I wanted a job that would be challenging, but that I would also really enjoy. I applied for the bank's Spring Insight scheme and managed to get a place.
What sort of work did you do on the scheme?
There were a couple of days of introductions and presentations, teaching us how to network, and present our CVs, and equipping us with other skills we're likely to need in our careers. We also spent a couple of afternoons shadowing people while they worked. I was based in the Operations department, and got to sit with two different people, learning what they did on a day-to-day basis.
From Spring Insight, I got a fast-track interview for the bank's summer internship programme. At the interview, they understood that, due to my physics background, I didn't have a great deal of technical finance knowledge. They were much more interested in finding out what I was like as a person, and whether or not I was somebody they would be able to work alongside every day.
How did you find the internship experience?
I was put on the FX control and oversight team, which is responsible for ensuring that money is in the right place at the right time for all the global transactions occurring at the bank. It involved working in conjunction with our team in India a lot. Even though I was only an intern, I was given responsibility for liaising with people there. Luckily for me, they worked on London hours so there weren't any problems with the time difference!
As well as helping my desk, I also had the opportunity to work on presentations and projects, and even got to present to senior staff members, which was a great opportunity. Everyone at Credit Suisse was very approachable, and senior staff were very happy to sit down with me and talk about their experiences.
I became good friends with lots of the other interns. Although we were all on separate desks during the day, there were occasional training sessions or lectures that we got to attend together. Credit Suisse also hosted welcome drinks and a leaving dinner for us, which were both really good fun. The graduate committee within Operations also organised intern events, which helped create a very sociable atmosphere.
What convinced you that a full-time career at Credit Suisse was right for you?
I decided to join the firm full-time because I was challenged by the work, enjoyed learning new things every day, and got to find out more about the world of finance. Also, everyone was very friendly and helpful while I was there, which made the whole experience very rewarding.
What are you looking forward to about the graduate programme?
I'll still be in Operations, but I will be working with a different team. The graduate programme consists of rotations, so I'll sit on one desk for a year, and then will move to another for my second year. Operations is quite a large department, so these rotations will give me a chance to see some of the other areas of the business, and that will be very useful and interesting to me.
I think that having the chance to network and try different roles will be really important in helping me decide my future career direction. Since I'm still relatively new to finance, I don't fully know what jobs are out there, so getting the chance to experience different roles within Operations at Credit Suisse should be really interesting.
What do you find most enjoyable about working in Operations?
The work in the Operations team is great for people who enjoy solving problems and thinking on their feet. A lot of the work consists of developing solutions to real world problems - I like to think of it as detective work! It's rewarding when you find an answer.
And how have your classmates reacted to the fact you've decided not to pursue a career in physics?
A lot of my friends are trying to get jobs in finance too! When I was doing my internship, I met a lot of people who had studied languages and sciences - subjects that you wouldn't automatically associate with finance. I'd definitely tell people not to be discouraged from considering working in banking just because they're not doing a finance-related degree.
Working with India
"One of the big challenges I encountered during my internship was dealing with the language barrier between my office and our office in India. I had to be quite clear with my instructions and be able to talk through things in great detail. Before I left at the end of the summer, I had to train someone in India on what I had been working on, which involved sharing the same video screen while I talked them through it on a conference call. It was quite a challenge, as I'd never done anything like it before, but I really appreciated the experience."