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Barnett Waddingham
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Summer student blog

Published by Kim Durniat on

Three interns – Susanna from Imperial College London, Adam from UCL, and Andrew from The University of Warwick – recently completed an 8 week internship with us. We hope their thoughts on the experience will provide a useful resource to future students applying for internships here and elsewhere.

Don’t worry if you lack experience and skills at the beginning

Susanna:
It quickly became apparent that I did not possess the same Excel experience and knowledge as my fellow interns and I was in no way comparable to the rest of the team. Instead of feeling disheartened, I used the support and knowledge of my colleagues to improve.

Andrew:
There was an induction on the very first day that helped immensely in explaining what it was we would be doing at Barnett Waddingham; the areas that we would be working in (life and general insurance) and how all the different teams fit in with one another. Looking back on the work that I was doing in the first week and the way that I was doing it, I can’t believe how far I’ve come in such a short period of time. If you come in to the internship willing to work hard and learn new things, then you will undoubtedly succeed.

Adam:
There were numerous training sessions throughout the internship that gave me a good understanding of the work that I would be doing and the concepts behind it. I found it useful to have seen the ideas behind a task that I was given before actually being given it.

Don’t be worried about being slow at completing tasks

Susanna:
The rest of the team do not expect you to be as quick as them at the beginning. It is a learning process and it is better to take your time and produce a high quality of work rather than rush.

Andrew:
I think every intern feels as if they’re completing tasks at a snail’s pace, especially when they’ve just started. However, what is more important than completing tasks quickly is having the time management skills to complete all the tasks you’ve been given within the time you’ve been given to do them in. Knowing what you have due for when, and planning your time accordingly is essential to being a good intern, as well as knowing when you have time for more work, and when you just have to say no!

Adam:
It is difficult to judge how long a task will take, so I often found myself underestimating the time-cost of tasks; however I’ve been told that this will improve with experience. A To-Do list can help with managing the many tasks you will be given!

You’ll quickly get used to the working life

We all found the change from the university sleeping pattern quite a shock, but after a few early nights and regular coffee breaks, you will leave the university habits behind and slip easily in to the working life; especially when you realise that 9:00-5:15 is a pretty great deal when you consider the hours that some interns work. The transition happens sooner than you would think, and you certainly learn to appreciate the weekend.

Try and get involved in as many different projects as possible early on (but not too many)

Susanna:
One of my only regrets is not pushing myself to experience a more varied range of work in the first few weeks. By varying the types of work, you get the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and experience the different types of work in insurance. So instead of just doing tasks handed down to you, ask to get involved in other areas of work.

Andrew:
While it is a very good idea to try and get as diverse an experience as possible, you must be careful not to overload yourself by taking on too much work too quickly. This can be detrimental to both your ability to keep up with your long term projects and the quality of the work you produce, and as Susanna said earlier: quality over quantity.

Adam:
I found that I enjoyed the longer projects that we were given, where we could involve ourselves in all stages of the project: planning, designing, building, reviewing and redrafting. The more in-depth projects also tend to be the ones where you can think deeply about the issues, where you can get to know well a topic, and they tend to be those where you can make your mark.

Ask as many (insightful) questions as possible

Susanna:
Do not leave yourself not knowing what to do and wasting time. The team will be happy to answer any questions that you may have and assist you with your work. Remember, they were an intern or new grad at some point too!

Andrew:
When I first started, I would spend hours thinking about a problem and not knowing how to solve it, only to have someone explain it to me in 5 minutes when I finally plucked up the courage to ask. So ask. The team are always happy to explain things.

Finally, get to know the team, and the rest of the office

Susanna:
Take part in socials, including SIAS events, sport tournaments and Friday evening pub trips. As the insurance team here at Barnett Waddingham is small, it is important to build good relationships and socials are a great way to do this.

Andrew:
As part of the internship, the interns organised two socials for the team to enjoy. Thinking up quirky, entertaining ideas is a good way to endear yourself to the team, and an even better way to learn about their lives outside of work.

Adam:
‘Formal’ socials are a good way to get to know everyone on the team, but don’t forget the value of your daily interaction with other team members!

Find out more about graduate recruitment

If you would like to know more about our graduate recruitment programme visit the careers section of our website

About the author

  • Kim Durniat

    Head of Life Consulting, Kim is responsible for managing the Life team, ensuring high quality, great value advice that meets client’s needs and developing our service offerings to the Life insurance sector.

    View Biography

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