Andy Watters, MA student in International Political Economy, tells us about his internships with the FSA; how the experience helped him secure a graduate role and where it could take him in future.
In the summers of both my second and final years I worked as a summer intern at the Financial Services Authority. Both internships were 12 weeks long. For the first placement I worked in a Managing Director’s Office and for the second I worked in the organisation’s international division. I secured the first internship by being successful in the organisation’s 7-stage application process, and I was subsequently invited back for a second summer.
What did you learn and achieve?
The internships helped me develop in several areas that have since proven invaluable both with my academic work and further professional applications. It taught me how to stay motivated when working on projects with long time horizons, how to quickly and accurately identify relevant stakeholders for a piece of work, as well as how to be flexible and adaptable in my approach to work. In addition, the unique position of the FSA as the sole UK regulator provided me with a comprehensive overview of the British financial sector, and indeed how it fits into the larger economy, neither of which I was knowledgeable about before.
How will you market this experience to employers?
Ultimately I am striving for a profession in government along the lines of economic policy analyst or consultant, so the fact that I now understand how financial policy interacts with monetary and fiscal policy will definitely help me stand out in the future. In addition, I worked on projects that directly contributed to regulatory streams at the international level, and well as those that have since been distributed throughout the organisation to working level supervisors and senior level executives alike, which I am particularly proud of. However, more valuable than all of that is the sense of professionalism and confidence that I have acquired through working at the FSA; that has definitely been the single biggest gain for me.
Once I finish my Masters dissertation I’ll begin a graduate post at the Bank of England in their Markets Division. That’ll last for at least two and a half years, at which point I’ll apply to rotate somewhere else within the Bank. After that, who knows? Regardless of where your career eventually takes you, I would 100% recommend work experience to other students. It’ll develop your business acumen in the field you’re interested in, help you to build on your oral and written communication skills and probably involve learning to operate effectively as part of a team too. Ultimately, work experience will give you the confidence and independence you’ll need to pursue and secure the graduate job you want.