STUDENT BLOG: Preparing for a job in finance starts in first year

Our guest student blogger, Eric Kenny, is a third year Economics student at York.

“You may have heard of the old saying “don’t worry about a job until you finish university”. I remember being told this, and I believed it…well, for a few weeks anyway.

Although university is fun and enjoyable, it is ultimately a preparation guide. In blunt terms, you should be more employable coming out than when you came in. Current first years are going to leave university with over £30,000 of debt. This means there will be increasing pressure for graduates to find a job, preferably a well paying one. The competition for high salary jobs is set to increase, so it’s important to prepare yourself accordingly.

“But when do I start?” ask many people I come across, as if it is a calculated procedure that must be managed with the utmost care. The typical answer many recruiters will give you is “it’s never too early”. Although that may be true in some respects, there are many fallacies with this answer.

To start with, it is very difficult to not only know exactly what you want to be in three years time, but to also be actively working on it from week  one. I would say that that there is never really an official start time. You should definitely be looking around in your first year and making yourself aware of the different career sectors you could realistically see yourself going down. A great starting point is to visit the Careers centre and pick up anything that you like the look of (book wise of course). If a job in finance is really something that wets your whistle, then there are numerous opportunities at your doorstep, even in your first year.

At this stage you will now need to look more closely at the particular industries you want to get some experience in. “Experience”; a horribly over-used word that is used to assess your general interest in the field and your track record.

The good thing about being a first year student is that you are not expected to have much direct experience yet. But, if you do see the opportunity of getting some experience then I strongly recommend it. So although you may see a work shadowing task as following an employee around and filing paper, it could be seen to the employer as you showing an interest in the field and increasing your exposure to prominent members of the industry (building your network). The point is that any relevant experience in a finance/accounting workplace is a great start to building your CV.

The highest quality work placements in your first year for finance will be in ‘employer insight days’. These are programs that are usually conducted in the Easter holiday (also sometimes referred to as ‘Spring Programme’) specifically tailored to first year students, that give an individual a good idea into what a career in the industry would entail.

In accounting, firms that do insight days include the ‘Big Four’ (PwC, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte) although you will come across many accounting practices that will be happy to have an extra pair of hands for a few days in the holidays.

In banking this can be more complex, as there are different institutions: investment banks (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Nomura) and retail banks (Santander, Lloyds, HSBC) and some that are involved in both (RBS and Barclays). There are also growing opportunities in insurance too (Hiscox, Aviva, Swiss Re).

Details of many of the companies in this sector are listed at on the TargetJobs website There is also a printed version that comes to Careers every year (it’s worth picking it up to get some more detail).  Find out more about first year opportunities and Spring programmes and see which companies are still recruiting (some opportunities listed may be longer internships targeted at second years – please check)

Many first year programs are still open for applications but will be closing in the coming weeks, so if you think you would like to go for one, then get researching!”


Check out the Careers resources at  Finance and Consultancy  to help you to get started.

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