As a female undergraduate student, the aspect of heading into Financial Services can be pretty daunting, since the traditional image of the industry has always been male-dominant. However, given this modern age of gender equality, financial institutions are trying to promote it in their workplace and encourage female students to head into the field. During the ‘milkround’ season, I have attended some events held by banks only for female university students.
Due to the nature of those events, most of which are facilitated by the Women’s Networks at the companies, and a lot of the current employee representatives who attended were female. Many attendants told me that they felt much more empowered to develop a career in Finance after having heard from influential female figures speak. The events take on many different shapes and forms. For example, Goldman Sachs’ Women’s Network breakfast was rather informal. It was a quick breakfast with only female representatives from a few of the many departments at GS, and we could ask them questions openly whilst also enjoying some pastry. It was great to know that not only women are supported by the firm, but also other groups such as LGBT and ethnic minorities, as a current employee told me proudly about the different networks within GS.
Being the opposite of a breakfast event, I have attended a Networking Evening facilitated by the Women’s Network at Barclays. During that event, both male and female representatives attended, and we were given name cards to exchange with the Barclays reps. It was a very fun networking event which was very realistic as we could swap cards and contact details. I think it was amazing to have attended a networking event that is so similar in format to ones in the industry, it definitely was a great learning experience.
Additionally, I attended two full-day events: one at Morgan Stanley and another at HSBC. At Morgan Stanley, we had rotational workshops teaching us different skill sets. The content included training us how to better present ourselves and act more confidently from a soft skills workshop, and some more technical training from representatives from the IBD at Morgan Stanley. All the workshops were very interactive in nature, and we were in small groups of around 10 students, so we could ask questions very freely.
In contrast, the event at HSBC was made up of mainly conferences, and the format was more formal in nature. All the speakers from HSBC were female, and we had a panel from recent graduate hires who were in our positions just a few years ago. It was very inspiring to hear from people who have recently been through what we are facing now to learn from their experiences. Since the event was over the whole day, we got to speak to many current female employees during a networking dinner. The representatives rotated from table to table during every course change, to ensure that we could speak to all of the reps. They were all very approachable and friendly. The atmosphere was more relaxed than during the conferences. The exchanges were very enjoyable, since the representatives came from a wide range of divisions within the bank, we could get an idea of what it is like working at the different divisions within HSBC.
All in all, I am very grateful to have been given the opportunities by the banks to attend their events that are tailored to female students. This has enabled me not only to learn more about the industry, but also what it is like to be a female professional. On top of which, these events have certainly taught me some invaluable skills such as networking etiquette, which is definitely useful in one’s professional life.