Updated: Feb 22, 2021
Congratulations to everyone for sitting through your exams – no matter what year you’re in. Life has definitely thrown a curve ball at us all this year, so well done for getting through it.
A special congratulations to those of you who have graduated, and those who have secured a role and stuck by it in 2020! You should truly be proud of yourself for the hard work and dedication, and most of all your undying perseverance.
This morning lots of you will have started your graduate schemes virtually (if you haven’t already). My friend started her grad scheme today – an overly exciting moment in her career and I wanted to make sure she had all of the things I learnt over the past 5 weeks of my virtual internship to help her hit the ground running. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been *virtually* interning in financial services this summer. Virtual internships are an experience that I am sure many incoming interns and grads have been anxious over. At first, you’re probably thinking a virtual grad training/ internship will be ultra-lonely and isolating and just a dead-end road for your career. But let me prove you wrong, and help you navigate yourself through your virtual career.
Here it goes, a digestible guide to your virtual work experience – whether it be an internship or the start of your graduate programme, from the lessons I’ve learnt this summer:
Meeting your manager:
Get in touch with your manager before you hit the desk. Send them an email and arrange a call at earliest convenience to show you are proactive and excited about getting started.
Once your call has been arranged, prepare questions in advance; for example: what will my tasks be in the first few weeks? How can I prepare for these? Is there any additional reading/ knowledge I can acquire before starting on the desk?
Show you’re enthusiastic about the trainings – ask your line manager how to make the most of them, cover some of the things you’ve done so far ie. taking notes, speaking to other interns
Prepare a 2 min overview of the things you’ve learnt so far and what you’ve found most interesting, bonus points if you come up with things you would like to hear more about and ask your manager who may be a good person to speak to about this (immediately setting up a network is crucial to navigating through your new role)
KEY: know what YOU want to get out of the rotation you are placed in. For example, I let my line manager know from the start that I wanted to know more about markets, how they operate, and what a client relationship looked like from start to finish. My line manager helped me meet the right people that could bring my interests to life.
Meeting other grads:
It will be challenging making connections virtually but that doesn’t mean they are impossible! In fact, I’ve found it quite easy building relationships virtually, even though I initially dreaded it. Make sure to reach out to other grads, introduce yourself over email and set up 1:1 calls with everyone. Remember that these grads will build the core of your network and you are all in the same situation!
If no one has arranged a virtual social meet up by the end of training week number 1 – take matters into your own hands and arrange one. Ask all the grads in your team to schedule in a half an hour meet-up with all of you every Friday of the training weeks (probably will get more difficult as you actually hit the desk but during training this should be feasible)
1:1 catch ups – for those grads you already know or people you have already met, schedule in a half an hour meeting whenever suits you (this can even be after the training day), talk transparently about how you’re feeling, what excites you, what you want to know more about and share what your line manager has tasked you with already. This will be key to finding what you enjoy about and within the company!
During training and every work day, make sure to take at least 30 mins – 1 hour off during the day just to walk around, do some exercise, sit in the sun etc. I can see a massive change in my afternoon/early evening productivity when I get up and move around during noon instead of being on the desk all day
Have snacks next to your desk (tempting I know, but you’ll need it for when you’ve got a packed day and don’t have time to run to the kitchen and make lunch)
Check in with your line manager and your confidantes at the workplace. Ensure that you have a good support system to keep your mind and body healthy. Starting to work is a big lifestyle change and you need to feel supported from the start! If it’s not working for you, speak to HR or your fellow interns and graduates to ensure you find your support system from the start.
Finally, remember that this is an exciting time. You are the first ever virtual graduate class. My experience has been entirely positive, and everyone has been extremely sympathetic about the challenges of working online. I am certain that this will be an incomparable experience for you all.
I hope that helps and I wish you an amazing start to your career.
Any questions, just give me a shout.