1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role was as a mentee and I was attached to a mentor in the bank's trading department. I work shadowed my mentor from 8-5pm. It was not a paid internship therefore I did not have a fixed jobscope, it depends entirely on the mentor. I was sitting by his desk for most of the time and observed how he traded using different softwares, and I managed to socialize with his colleagues when they have spare time. On the first day of our programme we were briefed through by the director of HR on the roles of the bank and the different divisions. We were also divided into groups and were tasked to make a presentation on our experience at the end of the programme.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
It was certainly an invaluable experience to be shadowing a trader. I managed to witness the chaos on the trading floor when an economic data is released. My mentor explained some workings of the trading software (Bloomberg) and how he applied technical analysis using the tools in the software. I also managed to learn many trading strategies from his colleagues. The trading process is definitely more advanced than I can handle, however the experience gave me a clearer idea of how it is like to be a trader.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have definitely enjoyed the programme, mostly because of my mentor being very helpful and patient while explaining the complicated trading concepts to someone inexperienced. The programme was well designed as we were briefed about the different divisions and role of the bank. Since we were not given any specific jobscope, it depends on the mentor that you are attached to. If you are lucky and were attached to a mentor who is enthusiastic then it will be very beneficial. Or else it might be unproductive and disorganized.
4. How valued do you feel by Commerce International Bankers?
Since we were the first batch of mentees, the HR department paid close attention to us. Not only we get to meet the director of the HR department, we also had a session with the bank's CEO. Being attached to the trading division, which is usually very confidential in banks, means that the bank is really trying its best to make the work attachment programme as useful as possible. Also, my mentor's colleagues were very friendly to me as they shared their experiences and gave me very constructive advices. They even brought me out to lunch and made me feel like I was part of them.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Since we are the pioneer batch, having flaws in the programme are acceptable. The first few days were more like ice-breaking sessions were we get to know other participants and our mentors. We were introduced to the roles ane division of the banks. After the first few days of introduction we then started our actual work attachment period for four days. The mentors have full flexibility on what to do over the four days but there are pros and cons, if you are attached to an enthusiastic mentor then you will find the experience very rewarding.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
We are not engaged in any training provided by external companies. The "training" we had was probably the first few days of introduction sessions. The programme was only a week long and it was only opened to pre-University students. We were introduced to the roles ane division of the banks, being pre-university students who have limited knowledge on the inner structure of a bank, the introduction session was really helpful to make us understand the operation of a bank. We also had sessions with the bank's CEO and director of HR , and was given a chance to tour around the bank's building.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Here I would refer my "employer" as my mentor who was tasked to look after me over the four days of work attachment period after the initial introduction period. Overall I was given a good support system as I was in close contact with my mentor. However, being only a pre-University student, the trading concepts may seem too complicated to me. Sometimes I would be confused but felt bad to ask too many questions. Perhaps the work attachment would be more helpful for those with more advanced knowledge on trading. However it did give me a good overview of how is it like to work on the trading floor.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
It was a week long of work attachment programme and therefore we were not paid. The internship was based in the city and some of us had to travel from far away to the city. I had to rent a hostel for a week and it definitely incurred a cost to me. We were given travel cards (like Osyter cards) with credit and it definitely offset some of the costs. Though it would be great if the bank could provide accommodation for the participants, but since it was a work attachment programme and not an internship, I don't have much to complain.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There aren't much opportunities outside work, we usually arrive at the office at 8am and get back home at 6pm. Unless your mentor has decided to bring you out for a dinner, we normally part ways outside work hours. Since the participants are tasked to create a PowerPoint presentation, we spend most of our time outside work to discuss about our presentation. On the last day of our programme we were all invited to the bank's company dinner which provided very good networking opportunities with the current employees and even higher ranked managers.
9. Would you recommend Commerce International Bankers to a friend?
For pre-University students who are aspiring to venture into banking, this is certainly a very good opportunity to get to know the banking field before choosing our undergraduate degree. There are rarely banks who are willing to organize work attachment programmes for pre-University students (sometimes not even First years). It is similar to Spring weeks in the UK but Spring weeks are usually open for first year undergraduates. Therefore it is a really good opportunity to have a taste on how is it like to work in a bank.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Commerce International Bankers?
We submitted our application through the college administrators because the bank has contacted the college directly to seek for participants. Therefore our applications are probably screened through by the college before being submitted to the bank. Most of those who were chosen are aspiring accountants, economists, actuaries, those who are interested in the field of finance and banking. However there are also aspiring pharmacists and engineers who are selected for the programme. Since we were the pioneer batch there weren't too many applicants, so perhaps the bank only took into account our academic results, no interviews or essays are required.