Spring Insight – II : The Experience

Following my previous blog What are Spring Insights and How to Prepare for them, this is an account of my actual Spring week work experience. Following a pretty  rigorous recruitment process, I got selected for Insight Weeks in the technology divisions of Citi and J.P. Morgan during the Easter break, that is March-April 2017. As someone with no prior work experience, these felt like two of the most productive weeks of my life so far.

Life in the fast lane!

I interned with Citi at their majestic office in Canary Wharf, London, where people move at a pace diametrically opposite to the (comparatively) relaxed life at Durham. Mixed feelings of awe, intimidation and the joy of having made to that place encompassed me as I arrived at the grand campus. That was just the first impression of the corporate life. I met many more interns from so many different universities across the UK, Europe and even Asia, majoring in different subject areas and from so many different ethnic backgrounds, too large to be counted on fingers! We even had undergraduates studying subjects like Modern Languages, now interning in Investment Banking and Markets, a seemingly unlikely combination, yet very much possible. No doubt, a diversity of such an enormous scale allows an ingenious flow of ideas cutting across academic and ethnic backgrounds.

Meeting and greeting

After introduction with fellow interns and an introductory company presentation, each one of us was assigned a manager and a buddy, our companions throughout our time at the company. I work shadowed my manager and buddy for a few hours everyday, learning in detail how technology goes hand in hand with the company’s core sector, finance and what goes into the making of technologies, the different divisions in technology (like development and support), further divisions and the kind of tasks each one performs, along with the protocols followed in the development process. These bursts of work-shadowing were interspersed with a variety of individual and team challenges, not necessarily technical, but to test our problem solving, analytical and teamwork skills. I even got the opportunity to tour around their enormous data centre with hundreds of mainframe and super computers, buzzing with the sounds of processors and generators, that store unfathomable amounts of data. I was particularly impressed by the easily-comprehensible and engaging lessons in banking and finance fundamentals given to us, an area which neither me, nor any of my fellow technology interns had a clue about.

The J.P. Morgan coding challenge team!

Over the course of the internship, we had networking events with people of nearly every designation- analysts who just joined in a year ago, to the Vice Presidents, Executive Directors and the Chief Technical Officer.  I was so amazed how a 10-minute conversation with someone so learned and experienced can teach you several new things, not necessarily just technical or subject-specific, but so much more about leading people and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Highly recommend applying

My next internship was with JP Morgan at Glasgow, which comprised similar activities, of course with a few different activities in different areas, depending on the company’s business. Never had I ever learnt so much about the functioning of an industry in quite great a detail and an experience like this significantly helped me evaluate my interest in FinTech and the technology industry in general. It also helped weigh my strengths and development areas and exercise methods to develop them and cultivate my skill set to be more competent in my desired area of work. Given that a lot of freshers do not have a picture of what it is like to work in a specific industry, I highly recommend applying for Spring Week roles. The competitiveness of these roles hones one’s interviewing skills regardless of the outcome. Also, since nearly all companies give feedback after every stage of the recruitment process, it gives an opportunity to candidates to reflect upon their strengths and shortcomings and work upon them. Most importantly, me and some of my fellow interns who performed well throughout got fast-tracked for the final assessment centre for a summer internship in 2018 for both the companies, thus saving a lot of time and effort over the initial stages of recruitment.

Besides the stellar additions to my CV and my skill set, I was treated to great food, evening socials, a comfortable stay and a wonderful diverse company of fellow interns. And did I mention with all expenses paid? For an unexperienced first or second year undergraduate who is eager to learn, opportunities like these are certainly not to be missed!

Soumya Singh

Soumya Singh

I'm Soumya, a second year Computer Science undergraduate from the College of St. Hild & St. Bede. I come from India and my eclectic interests include languages and art. I act as the Web Officer of the Durham University Computing Society, am a part of Hild Bede Badminton and also write for the university media.
Soumya Singh

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