Emma den Held has been a Wholesale Banking trainee since October 2016. She regularly writes about her experiences as a trainee in this blog.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to work for a bank; the financial sector has always interested me. That’s also why I chose to do a master’s in finance and an internship at ABN Amro, for example. Following that internship and once I’d graduated, I was ready and eager to take my first real step onto the career ladder. I’d already spent quite a bit of time abroad as a student; I studied in Madrid for six months, and before going to university I travelled to Central America for a year to learn Spanish and do some voluntary work. So, armed with all that international experience, I felt the time was right to apply for a job.
Actually, the process went pretty well. In addition to ING, two big consultancy firms also offered me a position – but I soon decided on ING. It was also clear from the start that I would do the Wholesale Banking traineeship; it’s the best match with my profile, plus in Wholesale Banking you’re nice and close to the action. The transactions we’re involved in often make the news headlines; our work is very concrete. The Wholesale Banking track has also become one of the biggest tracks (along with IT): nine of us started as trainees in October. Because I was a little late in applying – I was still focused on finishing my dissertation for the whole of July – I was the last candidate to make it onto the list for the October intake. The entire procedure ran very quickly and smoothly. I felt that I could be myself from the very first interview until the very last one; I also sensed that ING wanted to see the real me. So I knew that if they were to make me an offer, it would be because they had faith in me – and they did! Once I’d been accepted, I decided to go travelling immediately – “while I still could” – and I ended up spending six weeks in Colombia.
Right from the start, it’s been clear that the traineeship offers a lot of added value compared with ‘normal’ starters’ roles. It’s nice to start as part of a group so you can share the experience with other people. I’m also always keen to compare notes on how other trainees are getting on. Besides that, you get to know a huge number of people, which could come in handy later. You hear about what other departments are working on and about the dynamics in other teams, and that helps you to choose your next rotation or future role. Plus, alongside your rotations, you work on a group assignment with other trainees. Our group was given a sustainability project, and we presented our findings to a number of managers. And in July we all sat the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam that we’d studied for together…a problem shared is a problem halved, as they say! To be honest I’d already covered quite a lot of the material during my master’s in finance, but I still had to study hard for a couple of months. And the subject matter is much less familiar for some of the other tracks, so I’m impressed that they do it too.
I regularly hear people say that a traineeship is a nice transition from studying to working. That’s true to a certain extent, but at the same time a traineeship is more intensive that either studying or a normal starters’ role. For instance, during a traineeship you work in two different departments in your first year, so you have to be someone who enjoys becoming part of various teams and who can find their feet quickly. On top of that you do lots of things together with the other trainees, so you get a whole new, ready-made social life. That sometimes means you have to put your old life ‘on hold’ at first. Our traineeship kicked off with two weeks of training in a hotel, for example. It’s all great fun and really interesting, but it can also take a bit of getting used to.
For my first rotation I worked in Capital Structuring & Advisory (CS&A), which is a young team, and I’m now doing my second rotation at Corporate Lending. For the final three months of this rotation I’ll be working in Singapore – and I’m leaving in early July! For my second rotation I wanted to find somewhere that would let me see and learn more about the execution side of things. CS&A did a lot of pitching to customers, and Corporate Lending is a nice way of supplementing the knowledge that I gained there. This department is responsible for issuing loans to major companies. I’m in the team for Telecom, Media & Technology, which is an extremely dynamic sector. I’ll be working for this department in Singapore too, where they’re responsible for major customers in Asia. The work itself will be pretty similar, but ING has a very different positioning there. Here in the Netherlands we’re market leader but the bank is less well known in Asia so I’m curious to see what that’s like – and of course I’m excited to know how it is to work in such an exotic location. I’ll soon find out, and I’ll share my first impressions with you next time!
Emma (25) did a bachelor’s in economics & business administration and a master’s in finance at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She spent six months studying in Madrid and did an internship in Structured Finance at ABN Amro. She has been a hockey player for many years, enjoys hitting the gym at ING and tries to go travelling as much as possible. Just before starting at ING she travelled around Colombia, and she also visited Argentina and Uruguay in between her first and second rotation.