During my second year at university, I began to focus on summer internships and enhancing my CV ahead of graduate applications the following year. I was directed by a finalist from the previous year’s awards to apply for the 2017 Undergraduate of the Year. The competition provides a unique platform for the UK’s best university talent to gain exposure to employers.
The choice in category for me was a simple one: First Names Group showed a true commitment to placing their people at the heart of their business, an independent leading edge, and an international focus, especially within emerging markets. Plus, the winner’s prize was a ten-week paid internship in Jersey with a week working in Hong Kong! So, without having any background in fiduciary services, or even finance as a whole, I decided to apply.
The first step was submitting an online application, with broad competency-based and employer-specific questioning. From this I was then invited to conduct a pre-recorded video interview, which involved quick-fire questioning so composure was vital. After successfully completing this stage, I was invited to a group selection centre in London. On the day there were 14 candidates; outnumbered by the number of First Names Group assessors, many of whom were directors from across multiple jurisdictions and service lines. However, the ethos behind the company’s focus on people immediately shone through and reaffirmed my choice of category.
Next, we conducted a group debating activity based upon a range of challenging business-related scenarios, which required a consensus on our approach. This was followed by an individual assessment in which we were given vital business information, such as accounts and marketing, to be analysed and used as a basis for our presentations to the directors later in the day. The day concluded with a final interview in front of two assessors, in which I played an open hand in professing no current knowledge of the sector, but a willingness to learn and harmony with the business ethos on people.
Thankfully, only a few days after the event I received confirmation that I had made it into the final ten! On the day of the awards ceremony, First Names Group treated us to ‘Breakfast and Bubbles’ ahead of the ceremony at the truly elegant Darwin Brasserie overlooking the Thames. This was followed, by a boat ride down to the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf for the awards ceremony, presented by Konnie Huq, where there was a chance to network with other finalists and sponsors. The remarkable talent displayed by all the finalists at the awards, with their varied skills sets and personal interests, was personally truly inspiring. It showed the high calibre of talent embedded within UK universities, an aspiration from my generation to achieve what some may call extraordinary and the need for employer-generated platforms to foster and nurture this talent.
Although not ultimately announced as the winner, I was offered a paid summer internship in Jersey within the award-winning funds division of First Names Group. This has so far seen me completing a project to feed into the group fund strategy and refreshing our service line presentations to generate easily adaptable templates. Soon it will see me off to Guernsey to gain multijurisdictional oversight. So not quite the exotic adventure to Hong Kong I had envisioned when I applied to the competition, but the experience I’ve gained throughout the awards process will no doubt prove invaluable to my international aspirations.