Nick is a History graduate from the University of Nottingham and a Solutions Pro. He started on our Graduate Leadership Programme in September 2015. Nick tells us what he has discovered so far.
Starting out – Do an internship if you can
I first started thinking about my career at the beginning of my second year at university. I decided that an internship was the way to go – it’s a great way to ‘try before you buy’. An internship means you can find out whether you like a company before jumping straight in as a graduate.
Some companies will take a good look at you during your internship, and if they think you’re good, they may make you a job offer for when your graduate – which happened to me. Internships save you the hassle of having to organise a graduate programme when you’re coming up to your finals, which can be quite stressful and involve a bit of juggling.
Choosing – For me it was easy
I came across Lloyds Banking Group on campus. I read the brochure, perused the website and decided that the organisation was right for me. I haven’t looked back. My programme is for two years, with three different placements.
I’m now on my second of these placements, managing more than thirty advisers in our Rosyth service centre near Edinburgh. My job – our job – is to help customers to resolve any debts they have with the bank.
Know the game – Do your best for your team
It’s like being a football coach, managing a team – you want to do your best by them, keep raising their performance and playing to a strategy. You want to understand them, and you want them to understand you – and you look for solutions that work for all parties. It’s fast paced and it keeps me on my toes.
Sometimes you have to make snap decisions based on what you see in front of you – just like in a football match. My confidence in making quick decisions has grown because there’s no time to mull things over – you make the decision and move on the next one.
This is what being a Solutions Pro is about – confident decision making, leading, communicating, finding smart ways to solve problems, creating an environment where others can be their best.
Food for thought – Get all the ingredients
I’m no culinary genius but I love my food, and when I go for lunch, usually to the local pop-up food stalls, I often watch the chefs at work. I think about delivery, and I think about ingredients.
These guys know how to cook – they know what works, what customers want, what the stall has to do to make money, what orders they can handle. I do the same thing in my job – deliver solutions that work for customers, for my team and for the bank.
Lots of skills, strengths and qualities have to come together for me and my team to be successful in this. You need all the right ingredients, together, in the right mix – otherwise it doesn’t work.
My next move – Work with a senior director
For my next placement, my final one, I’d love to support one of our directors. I think this would give me a strategic overview of our operations – a better idea of how the hierarchy works and what our leaders do for the business, and for our customers. To get that close to working with a senior leader is a great opportunity to learn from the best.
A year from now I’ll have rolled off the graduate programme, probably into another management role that matches the strengths and experience I’ll have by then. Three years from now I plan to be a senior manager.
Advice – It’s not about plodding along
To get the most of your programme you can’t plod along, expect things to land in your lap, and just do your job. Ask for more work, ask to get involved, find out what your director is doing, align yourself with that, gain as much exposure as you can – put in the extra effort.
As far as technical knowledge is concerned, don’t worry about that – your development plan will take care of it. So long as you come with the right soft skills, ready to work hard – that’s what’s important.
In my opinion there’s no better way to discover how business works, how people tick, and how to get the best out of both than starting with an Internship.
I’m discovering how business works, how people tick, and how to get the best out of both.