Spring weeks are week-long insight programmes run by most major employers in banking and finance. Aimed towards first year students, the typical spring week serves as an introduction to the working environment of that employer and the various roles available to graduates.
As well as providing students with some insight into what working in the finance industry involves, a spring week at Barclays is also the best way to make a first step onto the path to securing not only a summer internship but also a graduate role. To track the journey from student to employee, we spoke to a spring week participant, an intern and two graduate recruits about their experiences at Barclays so far.
The spring week student
Tasvi is a second year economics student at the University of Warwick. In the spring of her first year, she attended Barclays' Future Leaders Development Programme spring week. She has been offered a summer internship place for later this year.
The Barclays programme seemed like the only one of its kind.
Many other spring weeks are only focused on investment banking, but the Barclays programme I applied to was described as a future leaders programme and that aspect really appealed to me. There aren't many other programmes with a leadership dimension.
To apply, I had to submit a CV and answer some competency and numerical questions. After doing those I heard back from them within a month and had a 45-minute telephone interview. A week later I was informed I had a place on the spring week.
The spring week offers a broad idea of how Barclays operates.
As well as presentations on a range of topics, explaining the industry and how Barclays operates, I had two placements in different divisions within Barclays. The chief executive officer of Barclaycard also spoke to us which was probably my personal highlight. Her speech was very inspiring and contained lots of careers advice.
One of my first placements was a real turning point.
I was working in marketing and products alongside two graduates on the future leaders programme. Talking to them made me realise how exciting the work at Barclays is and made it feel like a place I could work at in the future.
On the final day of the spring week I had an interview with senior employees and gave a presentation where I pitched a new idea to them. Both of these were used to help decide whether to invite me back for the summer, and fortunately I did enough to impress them.
Roxanne is a third year economics student at the University of Cambridge. After attending the Barclays spring week programme in her first year, she returned to the bank for an internship the following summer. Over the course of her internship, she worked alongside teams in both M&A and equity advisory.
The spring week gave me a feel for the different jobs at Barclays.
Through work shadowing I was able to meet people from any division of the bank I was interested in. They also had a speed dating-type networking event where you went around chatting to people from different divisions for five minutes each.
After the week was over, I wanted to go back for the summer internship and increase my understanding of what Barclays does.
The internship was incredibly hands-on.
After three days of training I was put to work with the M&A team straight away. While working in M&A, I had exposure to pitches as well as live deals, which gave me a good overview of the whole deal process from origination to close.
The highlight for me was probably a personal presentation I worked on at the very end of my time within M&A. It gave me the opportunity to experience working on the modelling and valuation for a deal.
The exposure we got to the senior team was great.
Every intern across every division in Barclays was set the objective of independently meeting six directors or managing directors from across the bank that weren't within their team.
I was surprised to learn a lot of senior people had gone off on an unexpected tangent at some point in their career. When you're a student you think your entire career will follow a predefined path but that's not true. It showed me there is freedom to try different things once you're a few years in.
The graduate recruit: first year
Chirag Sethi graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in electronic engineering. He joined Barclays in a technology role in September 2013, having previously done both a spring week and a summer internship at the bank.
The technology spring week was intense but also extremely fun.
It consisted of a range of experiences, from talks with senior executives to technical workshops that demonstrated how various technologies and programming languages are used at Barclays. The best part for me was the opportunity to shadow technology graduates and understand how they make a difference at the bank.
The summer internship taught me a lot.
The key skill I learnt from the experience was taking full accountability for my work. In a fast-paced environment like investment banking, you need to make sure you can deliver everything you commit to. I made sure I was constantly updating my manager on the progress of my project, and would meet him formally twice a week.
I was also really pleased to learn enterprise programming as I hadn't done it at university - my degree was more focused on hardware. Learning something completely new in the space of a short summer internship isn't easy so that was a definite highlight.
Since starting work, I've been consistently challenged.
I've been given tasks relating to areas I haven't known a lot about beforehand but have been given all the support I need in order to complete them and gain new skills in the process. I made sure I learnt about the technologies used by my team very quickly.
I'm currently working as a project manager, on delivering an application that will automate many internal processes used by my team - thus increasing efficiency and saving time. It's an opportunity to make a real difference to the bank and to my team.
I think my spring week experience was indispensable.
Without it, it would've been much harder to get onto the summer internship. Also, I recognise most graduates in my intake from the previous year's internship, which shows how important it is to have some internship experience when applying for a graduate role, so you can prove you've made an effort to learn more about the industry.
The graduate recruit: second year
Laura currently works in the Wealth and Investment Management division and is approaching the end of her graduate programme rotations. She previously did both a spring week and a summer internship at Barclays.
The spring week was a good way of testing the industry out.
Before arriving, I wasn't aware of what Wealth and Investment Management did so took the opportunity to shadow people there and complete some work in the department. I loved dealing with individuals as opposed to corporations, handling their emotions as well as their finances. I felt this line of work was better suited to me than investment banking and decided I wanted to apply for my internship in that area too.
Returning a year later for my internship was really exciting.
One of the highlights of my summer was completing something called "The Pursuit", which is a team based project where you pursue a real life prospect client, competing against other intern teams to "win" the client for Barclays. While the client is aware they are taking part in an intern project, this is a great opportunity to understand a typical client's banking needs.
In a way, the internship was a ten-week job interview. At the end of the ten weeks, we learnt whether we had been offered a place on the graduate scheme or not. We didn't have to submit any extra applications or go through any extra interviews.
When I joined as a graduate, I was surprised how much exposure I had to clients.
That was really fantastic for me - I was picking up the phone from day one, speaking to them about their day-to-day issues. I was also being invited to go to client meetings with bankers. It's great to be able to get out there and put faces to the names of the clients whose accounts I deal with on a day-to-day basis.
I've been constantly learning from start to finish.
I spent my first six months as a graduate in a front-office rotation which was great. After that, I moved to the portfolio management team where the work is more technical and markets-focused. My current rotation is working directly for the chief executive of Wealth and Investment Management's office. The exposure I've had to senior management here has been fantastic; a few weeks into the role I was sitting at an executive committee meeting with the eight most senior employees at the bank!
I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.
I truly believe that if I hadn't done the spring week, I wouldn't be where I am now. You've got nothing to lose by applying as even if you come away realising this isn't what you want to do in the future, the experience will still make you appealing to other employers.