Rebecca McGowan, graduate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Rebecca McGowan, graduate, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Tech graduate: ‘I never expected to be working in the finance sector’

1 Aug 2018

The tech sector is thriving, but it’s not the only industry that’s looking for graduates.

For a tech graduate, there are a huge number of options when it comes to jobs, internships and graduate programmes.

Even outside the tech industry, the number of roles available to graduates of software engineering, software development or computer science stretch way beyond traditional roles in tech companies.

Rebecca McGowan is one such graduate, and she never thought she’d end up working in the finance sector. Here, she tells how she fared on a graduate programme at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

What did you study in college?

I studied a BSc degree in computer science and software engineering at Maynooth University for four years.

With this programme, are you now working in your desired industry?

Yes, my degree focused on the learning of multiple programming languages among many other aspects within the technology industry, allowing adaption to multiple roles.

While studying, I never expected to be working in the finance sector. However, on researching, I could see the potential Bank of America Merrill Lynch can help you achieve as a learning opportunity.

What drew you to Bank of America Merrill Lynch when you were seeking work as a graduate?

I was fortunate to be offered a position on Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s six-month industrial programme during my studies.

The bank’s focus on diversity and inclusion, and especially its efforts to hire more women into technology roles, was highly attractive to me so I was delighted when the opportunity arose to work there.

After the six-month programme, I left with a vast amount of knowledge and was keen to have a career in financial services. When I was told I had been offered to return after my studies, I welcomed the opportunity without hesitation.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I was fortunate to be familiar with the bank’s working environment and culture from my previous six-month placement.

I was still slightly nervous but, as soon as I arrived, my worries faded. As before, I was welcomed within my team, each teammate taking the time to ease me into my new role.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

Initially, I was sent with Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s other graduates from around the world for training in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Here, we were given a breakdown on the technologies we would be using in our day-to-day work, as well as financial banking terminology and education sessions on how investment banking works.

On my return to the bank’s Dublin office, my core focus at the beginning was to familiarise myself with what my role within the team would be. This involved reading up on different applications, attending internal team training and picking up small tasks that allowed my knowledge to expand.

It was important that I became accustomed to the applications and processes my team uses before moving to bigger tasks.

Did the scope of your work change as the programme progressed?

Yes, as time passed and I became more familiar with what we do, I was given greater volumes of work. This involved running meetings, taking the lead in various tasks and assisting new colleagues joining our team.

Graduates are encouraged to take the lead in tasks, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch believes in helping shape us to be future leaders.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

My role is very client-heavy, so a typical day involves many calls and meetings discussing their requirements. I work in reference data engagements, where the main focus is to provide our clients with data to help with their tasks.

My role covers three stages: get a clear understanding of the data required by the client, know how the data will be used and work out the best format in which to send the data to best meet the client’s needs.

When these questions have been answered, my focus then shifts to obtaining the required data. The magnitude of work can shift from day to day, depending on asks.

I work in a global team across three continents, so good communication is essential. Due to this, a typical day could see an internal catch-up call to discuss any issues we are having, giving the chance to help each other and learn.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

While you are a graduate, you are very much treated as one of the team. Initially, your responsibilities are different, but this is due to lack of experience and knowledge in what you are working on.

After some time, your responsibilities become the same as the more experienced employees you work with. Bank of America Merrill Lynch believes heavily that we succeed as a team.

Do you feel more prepared for working life after completing this programme?

Absolutely. Not only has this programme taught me skills that will help me excel within the financial services industry, it has also helped me develop other key skills in communications and organisational effectiveness, which are essential for any career path I may pursue down the line.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Bank of America Merrill Lynch?

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s fantastic graduate programme allows you to shape a career to be proud of. It equips you with all knowledge of the industry and allows continuous learning while you are here.

From the beginning, you are treated as a valued member of the team, giving you the space to grow.

As well as helping shape your career, Bank of America Merrill Lynch provides a friendly environment, which includes giving back to the local community. All employees are encouraged to participate in a host of charitable events and mentoring programmes. As a major global supporter of Special Olympics (SO), we even had the opportunity to volunteer at the recent SO Games in Ireland.

Being situated in Dublin, we are also immersed into a welcoming community, allowing us to achieve a fantastic work-life balance.

If you are a graduate looking for a programme that gives you the opportunity to grow, be challenged and be rewarded, I cannot recommend Bank of America Merrill Lynch enough.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading