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Banks are petty, says this unsuccessful technology intern.

I was 30 mins late to my bank internship, and I didn't get an offer

If you’re a computing student who’s thinking of applying for a banking job, I’d like to share my experience with you. I spent all my university years interning with one of the big banks everyone's heard of. I was dropped for no reason.

Getting a graduate technology job in an investment bank isn't easy. You need to start applying for internships as soon as you start university. I applied to the bank in the first year and got an internship. They invited me back in the second year and again in the third year. I interned at the same bank three years running.

These kinds of repeat internships are becoming standard. Banks want students to show loyalty. You have to accept when they keep inviting you back - even if you’d rather see what it’s like elsewhere. But if it doesn’t work out you have no back-up options. After three years at the bank’s beck and call, almost everyone on my internship programme got an offer, except me.

Obviously, I did something wrong. I’m still trying to figure out what that was. I think it was two things: I arrived late in the morning and I had a mind of my own. 

I didn’t arrive that late. The rest of my class were there at 9am and I arrived at 9.30am. I did this for medical reasons and I explained them to my line manager. I stayed late to make up for it – everyone else was gone at 5pm; I was almost always there to 9pm. I gave up my social life. I got no recognition.

The interns who got the offers were mostly looking for an easy ride. Working in tech in banking isn’t hard. It’s not about innovating: it’s about getting on with what you’ve been told to do. There are so many restrictions and so much bureaucracy that the pace of work is slow. For example, the npm artefactory that contains Javascript packages is usually publicly available, but it was completely internal at the bank I worked for. We couldn’t use the publicly accessible one for security reasons, and it was therefore much harder to innovate. The process of getting a release done was also incredibly hierarchical, with sign-off needed by senior people. Because of this we only achieved around one release a day.

I know that it’s not like this elsewhere. I’ve since spent some time working in big tech and they do tons of releases each day. Banks say they’re tech firms, but they are not. The bank I worked for had hot desks, nice chairs and casual dress codes – anything they could copy from tech companies they had.

Ultimately, though, banks are banks. They want loyal and good but not great coders. You can’t be too innovative, but they will reward you. If they like you, they’ll also give you a job for life. That’s me, and I appreciate that now.  

James Dyllick is a pseudonym

Photo by Andrew Jephson on Unsplash

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  • Da
    Dave
    29 June 2021

    I advise working in a top tech company like facebook or google, they hire all year around, and wont care if you're late for 30 mins or don't even turn up one day. Just practice that leetcode!

  • Ma
    Mark Rosado
    28 June 2021

    I don't think its about coming late dude, it was about something else.
    I have spent more than two decades in a few large banks after destiny put me here since graduation and let me tell you banks are not technology firms so that should not be an expectation to begin with. Majority of people in the technology department at banks can't code or solve problems but they can definitely talk, support the business and keep the ship sailing by supporting the existing applications. It also heavily depends on your department and based on the needs of the
    department it may have a slightly different culture that keeps the lights on. Most banks have a legacy culture, top management dreams to change it and they often pretend to talk like silicon valley stars and there is so much chatter and boasting about it but it hardly reaches the floor where work is done except changing titles of employees.To answer your question, some of the things you want to think about, that banks are a very personalized environment, here you work for a person and that person decides all your fate single-handedly no questions asked, tech skills are secondary as they believe they can always find a body or bring a vendor who will do the job, what really matters is that you are someone liked and fit well in the group and be part of pyramid. Typically the work that you have to do do not need any innovation and i have never seen there is any need for more than a release per week for example, and often there are many many more people that are needed for the job.
    But in summary, banks may be a better place to work if you have a family because they pay decently and effort is not that much, you just need to pick the culture and play the game as per established rules. If this is not to your liking and you are a 'genius techie' you should make your move fast before the culture eats you and you become lazy like most.

  • Ja
    Jack Hudler
    28 June 2021

    He made the right choice. Don't work in IT for Banks. It's exactly like he portrays it... no innovation, do as your told, and hope you don't get stuck with COBAL

  • Sa
    Sam
    28 June 2021

    If this post was written by the person in question, one of the reasons he probably did not get the position is his presentation. From the title, the outlook of this article reflect very badly on the author.(Out of context, of course you will not get hired when you have been 30 minutes late to your internship) And the article is very vague on the the discussion of the topic of the title.(The author mention at the tardiness is due to medical reasons, and this was communicated to the superior. But was this done after the tardiness or a pre arrangement with the line manager). So overall, the article does not justify this case for the position and appears to rant with very legs to stand on.

    On a side note
    1) Being late and staying is not a sign of diligence but poor time management.
    2) In certain industries, being present at the office when everyone else is at the office is essential to facilitate communication between colleagues.
    3) The author coming in late, may incite dissent among the other colleagues who have to be in the office on time. It does not matter if the author makes up for the time after, no one is present to witness it.

  • La
    Larry Miller
    27 June 2021

    Stop whining. Jeez. Your fault, take responsibility. U sound like a child

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