This summer I decided to accept a position at JP Morgan in Glasgow, instead of making money through my usual summer jobs of waitressing or bartending. Before starting, I had a few worrying expectations, mainly caused by the media and rumours from other people.
The idea of working in finance had stricken me as being very intense, fast-paced, and stressful. What I didn’t realise is that even though I would technically be working for a financial organisation, I wasn’t expected to have any financial knowledge to be able to work on the project I was assigned. Overall, my position was a lot less stressful than I thought it would be. We had deadlines that we had to stick to as any project does, but it was actually discouraged to stay late or do extra work. If you felt as though you had to do this, it was a sign that you were being given too much work to handle yourself, and that your project’s scope should be reevaluated. If employees did feel stressed throughout the internship, there was also constant support from both HR, management, mentors, and recruitment that were always there to provide guidance where they could. This got rid of my initial impression that we would be “out on our own” when we joined. We really could ask for help at any time. Even if the help that was required was technical instead of interpersonal, there were many brilliant learning resources that could be used when required. This was particularly useful to me, as I hadn’t worked with a lot of the technologies that I would be using in my project before.
I was also under the impression that when we were assigned to a team and a project, we wouldn’t be able to do anything outside of that team, even if we wished. This was another misconception, as I was given the opportunity to go and shadow those from other teams to find out what they were working on if I had such an interest. This was very helpful in determining where I would like to be assigned to if I were to come back to the company in the future.
Since this was my first job in a corporate environment, I had a few expectations about what would be expected of me. I thought that within the offices, it would be all work and no play, but this wasn’t true. There were multiple opportunities to get together with people and do things during breaks such as play board games or video games. Also, people would laugh and joke with each other at their desks, creating a more laid back and relaxed working environment. There were also many networking events set up for people to get to know other interns and graduates that had been though the internship previously, which really made a difference. I also thought that we would have to dress very smart, following a business dress code, but this was not the case. Since we were working in one of JP Morgan’s Global Technology Centers, we followed a policy that outlined that we could wear whatever made us feel comfortable, within limits. This again created a much more friendly environment in the office.
As many readers will already know, I am a huge advocate for diversity and equality within the tech industry, as shown mostly through being an organiser for Women in Tech Scotland. I was astonished to find that JP Morgan do so much to increase diversity and equality within the workplace, so much so that the difference is actually noticeable according to employees that have worked other places. This really makes a difference in my mind when choosing where I would be happy letting people know where I work.
Finally, I thought that since I wouldn’t class myself as the most technically skilled person interning, I wouldn’t be getting an offer to continue my employment with JP Morgan after I graduate. Again, I was thankfully wrong. Hopefully I will be returning after graduation, since my experience with the company so far has been nothing but positive.