Back in November when I attended ING Case Study Day, I never expected to find the time and in my already pretty full schedule and opportunity required to land an internship. But after this event such coincidence happened, I grabbed it and suddenly in March I was there, in the office, ready to roll.
The first few weeks were the toughest since I had no idea of what to expect. At the time I thought to myself that the only possible way for me to thrive in this world is to become an entrepreneur or freelancer due to my personality and absolute disrespect for authorities. However, I only signed my soul for four months at the time – or so I thought – and that calmed me down. I went in with the mindset that I would like to try corporate life for a while and decide whether it was meant for me.
Accidentally (or coincidentally), the company I went into was no ordinary corporation with all the prejudice I thought about them. Flexible work schedule, home office, relaxed atmosphere, agile transformation were buzz words thrown around all the time and were actually lived by the organisation. I even got a corporate book Wellbeing Equation developed by foreign ING office and some productivity coach describing how healthy lifestyle of eating healthy, exercising, sleeping and not stressing out are the core points for employee happiness. Well, that doesn’t sound like the life-draining corporation we so eagerly laughed at with fellow classmates when discussing future career options. This one looks different.
My department was Client Coverage – a small team of several relationship managers taking care of all the front office sales and customer’s point of contact for the entire wholesale bank of Czech Republic. Right next to us there was Lending which took care of all the quantitative background of the wholesale bank. Hey, bunch of really smart and cool people to work with. That’s nice!
So, the first week I met with my boss, who I couldn’t find up anywhere online or on LinkedIn, but I briefly met him at the case study day. At first, I was pretty terrified since his joke about working part-time meant that I could take nights and weekends off… Well, but then we quickly got to know each other and grew closer. The first meeting I got quickly interrogated for what I expect from the internship and we agreed that my workflow will consist of partly helping the team with some administrative tasks and partly helping prepare pitches for clients to help me grow my skills and understanding of business matters at the bank. I was looking forward to getting started.
The team was mainly more senior people with lots of experience in the banking industry with younger colleagues usually situated at Lending. It was great getting to know and learning from experienced bankers, hearing their stories during lunch breaks and getting their life and career advice with such unworldliness. I even got a lunch with Head of Lending and Head of Wholesale Bank and had a great chat with them. Several other events I happily joined them in their conversations, and they were very open and welcoming. I honestly really loved the flat structure at the bank and openness of management towards me as a young intern.
In my pitching part of work, I worked with my colleague Eva, who was extremely helpful and supportive in my beginnings. She helped me realise the life in a corporation is what you make it. Using the opportunities offered by the bank, she maximised her time spend in co-working places to let the workplace suit her the best for maximised productivity. Like you take Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Work week, mix it with Cal Newport’s Career Capital & Deep Work and boom, all win. Totally loved it. I think corporations really need such trendsetters to help them realised the full potential of their employees. If they can grasp it.
Later during my internship, I got some opportunities to visit some client events such as FM Breakfast at Czech National Bank, ING Learning Academy and Sustainable Conference in Impact Hub. I really loved these events and enjoyed participating and sometimes also preparing in collaboration with my colleagues. Suit up and go!
On one team building day during May we finally found time with my boss, Head of Client Coverage, to have some chat about my possible extension of my contract during the summer. As always, he was looking to offer me opportunities to do some interesting and educative work that can let me grow while also helping him or the team. This was awesome and I really appreciated his approach. We agreed that I could help him with his newly gained role of Head of CEE. We had an event where I could meet and get to know all the Heads of Client Coverage from the region in Prague with whom I later worked. I helped Martin with some organisational and administrative tasks regarding this job and also collaborated on some internal pitches to help the CEE region and let it grow. This was also great, but due to the limited time I had at the company, I couldn’t really get very deep into the matter and had to abandon the project in the middle.
To sum up my internship at ING gave me several huge lessons in working life. I learned how it is to wake up and go regularly to office work. I got rid of my fear of corporations. It set a high standard of what I will expect in the future. I am very happy to have worked with all my fellow workers who I met during my short internship. I wish you all the best in your lives and careers and hope to meet you later in my working life. Now I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life – Sweden.
Thank you all for the opportunity!