Bloomberg is buzzing. It's a Tuesday afternoon, and superstorm Sandy is approaching US shores. New York City is on lockdown and it's up to London to make sure the company continues delivering data, news and analytics to its clients across the world.
Natalie Grundy completed a ten-week internship in Financial Products Sales and Analytics at Bloomberg this summer, and was offered a full-time position at the end of it. After a couple of weeks' training, she's just joined the Foreign Exchange (FX) and Commodities team. It's a busy day for Natalie, but she takes a coffee break to tell us about her experience so far, along with Jenna Follett, Manager of the London Internship, who explains why interns are so important to the company.
Open to all
Bloomberg is the world's leading financial data provider. Its core business is the Bloomberg Professional Service, better known as "the terminal", which delivers real-time information to more than 310,000 end-users in finance and government worldwide. Financial Products Sales and Analytics "are the client-facing departments that directly support the terminal", explains Natalie.
"Sales is all about building client relationships, helping users make the most of their terminals and generating new business leads. In Analytics, we answer clients' questions about financial data, support them in using the terminal and help solve any problems that they may have," she says.
Natalie knows her stuff, and it's hard to believe she didn't have any experience in finance until her internship this summer. "I studied Psychology at the University of Nottingham," she says. "I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to work in the financial sector because of my degree, but Bloomberg takes on people from many different academic backgrounds - as long as you can show a passion for finance and willingness to learn."
It's a point Jenna is keen to emphasise: "We're more interested in the individuals and their interest in the financial markets, passion for the company and ability to be pro-active, than what they've studied at university. We're open to most backgrounds and degrees, and we value diversity."
Bloomberg's summer internships begin with intensive training to bring everyone up to speed before they start working. Natalie says: "Our training started with the basics, which I found extremely helpful. We gained an overview of the financial markets and investment banking to understand who our clients are and how they operate. We also learnt about the main asset classes in more detail, including equities, fixed income, FX and commodities, swaps and derivatives. The training was interactive and fun, and we were encouraged to ask questions at any time."
Natalie applied to Bloomberg because she thought the company would provide "a really good environment to thrive in". She was also eager to take on responsibility and make a contribution to the business - which is exactly what she did on her internship.
Natalie spent time in both the Sales and Analytics departments, where she interacted with clients and contributed to important projects. "In Sales, I was on the phone to clients every day and even attended some client meetings with my team. It was rewarding to be given the responsibility to talk to clients at such an early stage," she says.
In Analytics, Natalie worked on a number of business projects, including one to reduce clients' waiting time when they contact the department, and another to suggest creative ways of making alert functions on the Bloomberg terminal more user-friendly. "It was interesting because I was able to apply what I learnt from speaking to clients in Sales to my Analytics projects," explains Natalie.
"At the end of the internship, my team and I gave a presentation to the whole Analytics department about our projects. It was quite intimidating, but also fantastic to put our ideas to the business managers. Some of our proposals are going to be implemented, and it's satisfying to know that our work will actually make a difference," she says. "One of the business managers personally thanked me for my contribution to another project I worked on. I didn't feel like an intern, but part of the family."
With a workload to rival that of full-time employees, it wouldn't be surprising if Natalie faced a few challenges along the way. "My confidence didn't start off very high," she admits. "I worried about whether I was doing things right, or whether I'd be able to answer clients' questions." But Natalie never felt out of her depth, thanks to the supportive environment at Bloomberg. "The people here are fantastic. Everyone's open to questions and they're happy to give you their time to sit down and explain things," says Natalie.
Even Bloomberg's CEO Dan Doctoroff was willing to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer questions from this summer's interns at a networking session. "Dan came in to speak to us and we were able to talk to him afterwards on a one-to-one basis. I don't know many companies where you'd get that kind of exposure to the person at the top of the company!" says Natalie.
After Dan had delivered a speech about Bloomberg's values and the importance of people taking risks and making their own opportunities, one brave intern put him to the test. "He raised his hand and asked Dan if he could shadow him for the rest of the day," says Jenna. "Dan said 'yes', and the intern spent the rest of his day on global conference calls. We want people who are ambitious and not afraid to make a name for themselves - and that's exactly what he did," she adds.
From the company implementing ideas developed by interns, to its New York-based CEO spending time with them in London, it's clear that interns are pretty important at Bloomberg. Jenna says their "fresh perspective" is good for the business and that Bloomberg recruits interns with the intention of converting them into graduate hires. "We see our internships as a pipeline into our graduate positions, and our graduates then filter into more senior roles over time. So internships are the foundation we need to invest in to make sure we continue to have the best people leading the company," she explains.
At the end of the summer, Bloomberg evaluates everyone on the internship. Shortly after her final meeting with her mentor, Natalie was offered a full-time graduate role. "I learnt so much during the course of my internship and it gave me a real sense of achievement. I loved working in Analytics and by the end of my time in the department I knew it was where I belonged."
For now, it's back to the desk for Natalie, and the office is still buzzing. "The really exciting thing about Bloomberg is that you never stay in your comfort zone for long. Even though I'm just beginning my career, I like that I'm in an environment where I'll continue learning every day, and where I'll always be pushed that little bit further."
Need to know
Jenna Follett, Manager of the London Internship, answers the key questions about Bloomberg's summer internships
What areas of the business does Bloomberg offer internships in?
We offer summer internships in a number of core areas, including: Sales and Analytics, where the focus is on generating new business in Sales and assisting, advising and offering solutions to our clients when they're using the Bloomberg Terminal in Analytics; Financial Software Development (FSD), which focuses on the programming and development of functions for the Bloomberg Terminal; and Global Data, where employees work in specific asset class teams to source market information to be put into the terminal for our clients. We also have internship opportunities in areas such as News, Multimedia, Accounts, Global Customer Support and Global Technical Support.
How are the internships structured?
Our internships are ten weeks long over the summer. All interns have an induction together before they join their departments, where they'll then receive training, meet their team and be given projects to work on. Interns are assigned a mentor in their department, who they'll meet with to discuss their progress. We also facilitate networking events and information sessions to help interns gain an understanding of other parts of the business.
What skills and qualities are you looking for?
First and foremost, we look for people who can demonstrate an interest in finance. We also look for people who are pro-active, ambitious and want to drive their own career forward. Our people also need to have performed very well in their degree studies, have a global outlook and show a passion for our business.
Language skills are also important to us, and it's a distinct advantage if people speak several languages, particularly in client-facing roles. One of our current recruitment objectives is to hire interns and graduates who can support Bloomberg's expansion into emerging markets, including South Africa, Russia, Turkey, Israel and Eastern Europe. We want to recruit people who can help us build relationships in those regions by speaking to companies and organisations in their native language.
Who can apply?
Our internships are open to penultimate and final-year students, as well as those who've already graduated and taken a gap year or gained some professional experience. We recruit our interns with the intention to offer full-time positions at the end of the summer based on an individual's performance. It's a fantastic way to gain a first-hand insight into the company and secure a full time graduate role for when your studies are complete.