I play men's lacrosse for the university. Credit Suisse were our sponsors last year, so I got to know them through that - we'd have canapés and drinks with them. I spent some time chatting to some of their campus recruiters at events, and became interested from there. I then found out more about the Spring Insight programme online.
What was the application process like?
It was straightforward, but still challenging. It involved a verbal reasoning test, application forms, answering some short questions and sending over my CV.
Then I had to participate in a phone interview. The interview questions were quite broad and seemed to look mainly at my leadership and teamwork skills. There were no finance-specific questions. It wasn't an easy interview, but it wasn't too difficult either. It was very clear to me what each stage involved, and what I had to do.
What did you do day-to-day on the programme?
The programme was four days long. At first it involved us getting to know the bank, its different divisions and how it's evolving.
Then we spent two days shadowing junior employees, which was really interesting. Our last day was more hands-on: we were given a case study and asked to do a presentation on it. It was nice to end with being able to show that you can work in a team and deliver all the things they were looking for.
There were events in the evenings as well, where we got the chance to meet some more senior employees and ask them questions.
What was the highlight of the programme for you?
I found shadowing the most insightful element. I really enjoyed the more personal perspective it gave me on the bank. I was shadowing someone in a division that I definitely knew nothing about before and probably wouldn't have pursued on my own initiative, but I really enjoyed learning about it.
I also liked the buddy system the bank arranged. We were all matched with a junior employee who took us out for lunch, and you could ask them whatever questions you wanted to.
Has the Spring Insight Programme given you a new perspective on investment banking?
Absolutely. Despite the coverage that investment banks sometimes get in the press, I found Credit Suisse to be full of genuine, really nice people. The people who we shadowed volunteered to participate in the scheme. They want to help you out, and get you involved.
BSc Biochemistry, University of Bristol
*Spring Insight participant 2011, due to join Credit Suisse as an analyst in autumn 2013 *
How much did you know about investment banking when you applied to the Spring Insight Programme?
In terms of economic knowledge, not a huge amount. But the skills my degree taught me - analytical and numerical skills - strengthened my application.
You definitely don't need to know everything - that's what the Spring Insight programme is for: exposing you to new things. During the week, we got taught a huge amount about what investment banking involves, and I came out knowing a lot more.
What made you choose Credit Suisse?
I applied to several banks, but after I completed the Spring Insight programme, I realised that I really liked the co-operative culture I found at Credit Suisse, where teamwork is really important and everybody was very approachable. Credit Suisse was somewhere I could see myself working. I think that the culture can differ a lot from bank to bank, and I felt that the culture at Credit Suisse best suited me.
Looking back, what do you think you gained from the programme?
It definitely gave me a clearer understanding of what a career in investment banking involves, and the roles of different teams within the bank. It also showed me what sorts of skill each role involves, which is important for applying to the summer internship programme.
There were also lots of opportunities to network and meet different people - it was a really good opportunity to start practising these skills at an early stage of my career.
How did you progress from the programme to being offered a job?
At the end of the spring week, we filled out a form saying that we wanted to be considered for a summer internship. I was then invited back for interviews, and was offered a summer internship position from that. I received my summer internship offer in May, and applications only opened in September for everyone else, so doing the Spring Insight Programme gave me a head start.
After I completed the summer internship, I stayed in contact with the Human Resources team at Credit Suisse. I was invited back for a graduate job interview, and then received a job offer from there. I didn't have to make another formal application like the other interns who got jobs. I received an offer before the application system opened for anyone else.
And finally, what advice would you offer first years considering applying for the programme?
If you're interested in investment banking and think it could be the industry for you, then definitely apply to the programme. It was a fantastic week for me, in terms getting an insight into the industry early on, and seeing whether I'd fit in.
All you need to do in your application is to show motivation, enthusiasm and an interest in the markets. Demonstrating these things at so early a stage of your university studies will give you a good chance. They're not expecting you to be an expert on banking yet; they just want you to prove that you have the capability to one day take on a role at Credit Suisse.
Why does Credit Suisse run the Spring Insight programme?
The programme enables us to raise awareness of investment banking as a career, and to make people from non-finance backgrounds aware that working at a financial services firm like Credit Suisse could be an excellent option for them. Secondly, the programme helps us attract great students to Credit Suisse, and make sure that they're thinking about joining us early on at their time at university.
What could students gain from participating?
The programme will offer students to chance to learn and really understand what banks actually do. A lot of the week-long programme is spent breaking down the preconceptions out there about investment banking that aren't accurate. It's also about understanding that there are lots of functions at an investment bank and lots of different roles available.
What do you look for in applications?
Although you do have to be consistently good at your studies, it's not just about your grades. We also look at what you're doing in terms of extra-curricular activities as well, so your involvement in societies and sports activities, and any work experience, will all be helpful.
What makes Credit Suisse's Spring Insight programme especially good?
People who participate in the programme will, over the course of the week, get the chance to learn about and experience a number of different areas at the bank. I think that's key, because a lot of students don't know about all the different areas at an investment bank and the roles available within them.
The programme is also very interactive. The programme is not just a series of lectures - students get involved in exercises related to the work of the bank.
Do you think it's becoming more important to start pursuing a career early on in your time at university?
I do. I feel there's pressure on students to start looking at career options earlier and earlier. So for us, running a first year programme is in some ways a response to the job market and where it's moving. All of the banks are now looking at students at an earlier stage.
If you do a scheme like our Spring Insight programme in your first year, even if you don't end up pursuing a career in banking, you will pick up a lot of transferable skills that will be useful throughout your time at university and also in your future career.
Any closing thoughts on the programme?
It's a great opportunity, so please consider applying. Students shouldn't be discouraged if they're from a non-finance background. We actively try to recruit students from non-financial backgrounds because there are so many different roles and opportunities available to them at Credit Suisse.
And I'd also like to point out our commitment to graduate recruiting at Credit Suisse. It's something that we take really seriously- a lot of our senior management and some of our chief executives go to campus events. We see it as an important, long-term investment.