1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a Business Trainee at Close Brothers. The programme started in January 2014. It started with a two week induction in London; we completed various training activities and were introduced to various people within the business. I started my placement on the 27th January and was put straight into doing proper work, there was no time wasting admin to complete, the company recognised that I was ready to work from the start. My daily tasks thus far entail completing settlements and invoices to customers. This is an important role as it is key to get the right figure out to the customers because if it is wrong it could cost the company a lot of money. This makes me feel responsible and valued, especially as I have just joined the business.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I feel I have learnt a lot in the short period of time that I have been on the programme. The various training that I have had has certainly helped. For example personal impact and business writing training massively improved my communication skills, both in writing and verbally. These developed skills were beneficial as I entered a new environment when going into my office so it was important to make a good impression. I feel I have started to develop better in making decisions. I have started to learn that listening to people, taking into account their view helps project my view better and make a logical decision.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Although I haven't been part of the programme for long I am enjoying it immensely so far. It has been such an experience meeting people in the business and moving into one. The prospect of trying different areas of the business is a great motivator and I am looking forward to my future with Close and hope to develop further personally and within the company.
4. How valued do you feel by Close Brothers?
This section is definitely 10/10. Before I applied for the programme I attended an open evening and they valued me then. I knew from after the programme that I really wanted to be a part of it and went ahead and applied. During my induction Close provided various training exercises for us, this made me feel valued as it highlighted that they wanted us to start well when it came to entering the office environment. The second week of induction entailed of meeting various people within the business, these were all very important people and gave us great advice on how we can develop our careers and wished us the best of luck for the future. On the final day of induction I was treated to a sit down meal with the CEO of the bank, this was an unbelievably educating experience to meet someone who has clearly been very successful. He was very interested in the programme and the job role I would be up taking. It was brilliant to meet the CEO, I was amazed thathe had so much interest when he had such other important jobs to be doing.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme has been very well structured. I have a six month plan for my first placement in Burton on Trent. This involves working within various different parts of the business. I then have another plan for when I start my six month placement in Chester.
The training days that we have had and will still have to complete have been very well set out months in advance to give plenty of time to book trains etc.
The degree part of the programme has been structured very well too. I start the course in November and will attend multiple sessions before taking exams. The will take longer to obtain than a regular one because I will have to balance it with work too however it will be in the field I want it to be and very relevant which I personally believe is better than what many are doing at university.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I have not started my degree yet, that starts in November. Despite this the examination board that covers the degree came to us during our induction and fully explained the degree and what it entails, they answered any questions that we had to ask and were very helpful. As a result when it comes to starting the course I have no fears that all the support will be there for me.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
During the programme so far support has been in abundance. My line manager is regularly interested in what work I am completing. I have been completing diary entries for everyday i complete which I review at the end of the week with my line manager. This is good support as we can question any queries that have arose throughout the week.
I am in regular contact with the 'Aspire' coordinators and they are interested in how I am getting along and whether anything is concerning me.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
As I have had to move away from home for my placement I initially found it difficult; having to find a place to live, buy a car in order to get to work and various other factors that occur when you have to move away.
The company do give me a travel allowance every month to support me which is good benefit as they are not obliged to by any means. Furthermore Close paid for the deposit on my flat, this was a good benefit because money was a bit tight at the time.
It is not easy living away from home however it is proving to be a good experience so far and the costs seem to be covered well. Not many companies are offering a higher wage or benefits for people our age.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
As I have recently joined the business there havent been any opportunities outside of work however I am sure there will be some as Close seems like that sort of organisation.
I am keen to take part in any 'out of work' activities as I want to make the best out of the time I have in each placement.
9. Would you recommend Close Brothers to a friend?
I have recommended it to a friend. The company and the people in it immediately make you feel welcome and want the best for you. In addition what the programme offers is hard to turn down; a relevant degree, good pay and in a growing company which values its employees.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Close Brothers?
I would advise anyone applying to prepare appropriately and efficiently because the application process is challenging. It sounds generic but be yourself, from my experience so far Close aren't looking for people who think they are better than everyone else in the room, nor necessarily the person with the best grades. I wish anyone applying the best of luck.
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