Monday, September 9, 2013

Marie Notermans, winner of the Arts & Humanities Undergraduate of the Year Award talks about her experience applying last year

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Sometime back in the latter end of 2012, I was sat in a room in the middle of the Spanish plain, hugely regretting my choice to pack shampoo rather than Marmite in my year abroad suitcase(s). I was despairing at my lack of ability to remember the gender of the word for ‘class’ in Spanish, but more than anything, I was wondering what on earth I was going to do with my final summer as an undergraduate.

Last year’s plan to get some experience was launched rather half-heartedly some time in March, so I knew I had to get my act together earlier this year – this really was the last chance saloon. I spent hours scrolling through internships and looking for “the job” that would be the perfect fit for my skills and interests. I looked through the usual big graduate recruiters with internship programmes, but the more I saw that asked for “a mathematical degree”, the more despondent I got.

Surely the skills I had gained through my study of English and Spanish counted for something?
One thing I did manage to do in Spain (if not perfect my grammar) was read my emails, which was where I heard about the Undergraduate of the Year Award. I remember reading about it in first year, but seeing that the requirements were asking for a penultimate year student, hadn’t entered.

I cut myself a large slice of manchego cheese, and sat down at my computer. I looked through a few of the different awards, but decided on the Arts and Humanities Award since I am studying a language degree.    What really interested me about this award was the prize of a 10 week summer internship at Barclays.  In the past I had thought I may not be suitable for a role in financial services since I don’t have an economics, finance or maths background.  The fact that Barclays were sponsoring this award clearly meant they wanted to hear from students with an Arts and Humanities background so I decided to find out a bit more about them. Despite my lack of economic knowledge, the financial crisis (and accompanying bad press) hadn’t passed me by, and I have to say that I was sceptical – especially given that I was living in a country where even the word “bank” would raise the hackles of every person within half a mile.

I’d heard of Barclays before, but what was the wealth and investment management bit about? I googled, wikipediaed and read the website from top to bottom, and had a slightly better idea. It was a bank, yes, but it was a private bank. It dealt with wealthy individuals, charities, entrepreneurs and many more. But what interested me most was how much change was afoot – I began to realise that the financial crisis had really changed the industry, and this wasn’t the same bank that I had seen before.

I put in an application, dreamt a bit, and forgot about it.

Marie will be back blogging on Wednesday 11 September