Steph recently joined Nationwide’s Industrial placement programme as part of her degree at Cardiff University. Here she discusses her first few months in the business and how she’s felt at right at home since day one…
In August 2016, I started my Industrial placement at Nationwide as a Risk Analyst in the Secured Credit Risk Prime Mortgages team. In the past I’ve worked in retail as a sales assistant, which gave me some spending money and experience for my CV, but the role wasn’t particularly inspiring. Since joining Nationwide it's been refreshing to work in a job with responsibility and a clear correlation to my studies in in Mathematics, Operational Research and Statistics.
“ I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in maths as I found the subject hugely interesting and thankfully I think I’m pretty good at it too! Securing an Industrial placement at Nationwide has been perfect to give me the experience in something I enjoy. ”
Having lived in Swindon all my life, I was aware of the opportunities on offer at Nationwide. So when the time came that I was looking for my placement, Nationwide was at the top of my list. I was further encouraged for a role at Nationwide when I attended a careers presentation hosted by Nationwide at my University, it really inspired me and within a week I’d handed in my application!
What do you do at Nationwide?
In my placement I’m a Risk Analyst. Day to day I’m involved in the investigation of different groups of people on our mortgage portfolio and analysing whether a particular group of people are riskier than another, for example, first time buyers compared with subsequent buyers. What’s great about my placement is that I’ll be moving teams a couple of times throughout the year, meaning I’ll get to experience different areas of the Risk department and hopefully have a broad understanding of it all.
Can you be yourself at work?
In my last 2 years spent at university, I’ve had the freedom and independence to be myself. Dying my hair multiple colours, wearing facial piercings and ear stretchers were just some of the ways I’ve chosen to be myself. When the time came to look for an Industrial placement I fretted about my look, in particular how my hair would be perceived in a corporate environment and I toyed with the idea of going back to brunette.
I wanted to secure an Industrial placement as they’re incredibly valuable experiences that increase your employability and allow you to bring theory of University and the practise of the workplace together. It was important to me that I was the ideal candidate for employers, so upon securing my interview at Nationwide for my Industrial placement I removed all my face piercings, my stretchers and in the run up I had numerous conversations with my mum about what would be deemed acceptable regarding appearance in a corporate world.
Now I’m at Nationwide I’m really enjoying my role, and what’s more is I completely feel like I can be myself at work. As someone currently with purple hair and piercings I was nervous about how I was going to be received, but at no point have I ever felt judged. Since starting I’ve changed my hair colour 3 times from purple to bright green to bright blue and I have no worries that anyone will judge me for my looks. I’d like to think most people have welcomed the change in a sea of brunettes and blondes!
What would my advice be to other people applying for Industrial placements?
My advice for people applying for Industrial Placements, is to be confident in your ability to do the role and not worry about how you look. I’d also recommend that you apply for organisations you can really envisage yourself working at, as opposed to applying for lots of different opportunities that you aren’t 100% interested in. Think about what you want to get out of the placement as certain companies will be better suited to what you want to achieve than others.
“ The best advice I’d give to other people applying for industrial placements is to be yourself. Don’t be the person you think they want. ”
As an Industrial placement student at Nationwide I can confidently say applicants should be confident that their time will be put to good use and it’ll be a valuable experience.
Why should people apply to Nationwide in your opinion?
In my opinion, I believe people should apply to Nationwide as it’s a company that allows you to be yourself, encourages the differences between everyone and has a culture which strives to help you flourish in your abilities.
“ You can enter your interview at Nationwide confident knowing that you’re going to be selected purely on your ability. I wish I had known this going into my interview as it definitely would’ve settled my nerves somewhat. ”