How I developed my employability skills through a placement at HSBC

Stefan Dupey-Whyte is a Tech Industry Gold student at Loughborough University. He’s studying Information Technology for Business and has completed his placement at HSBC. This summer, we caught up with Stefan (online) to find out how he got on.

Firstly – how are you and how have you been managing during the lockdown?

I’m all right, thanks. Lockdown started off as a real challenge as I enjoy socialising and going to the gym/training to ‘switch off’. It really messed up my schedule, but once I established a routine, I was fine. HSBC were great when we made the transition to working from home.

What’s it like studying a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree?

It’s honestly amazing. It really helps with creating connections with employers, expanding my network, and using transferable employability skills. When anyone hears about my degree, they say that it sounds great and wish they had enrolled on a similar course.

How did you secure your placement and what process did you have to go through to get on the programme?

I originally saw the placement advertised on LinkedIn. I clicked on the link, went through an initial screening, answered a few questions, and uploaded my CV. I then had to do a mathematical test. After passing that, I then had to pass a situational judgment test. I was invited to an assessment centre and then offered the role of a Data Analyst.

What was a typical day like?

Every day was different. However, I did have to read through numerous emails in the morning. I would flag those emails which were important. I would then code a project and go on to produce outputs and attend meetings with stakeholders, or with my team. The role provided a lot of variety.

Lockdown did provide some more structure to the day, as each morning my team would have a ‘check-in’ call to see how everyone was doing.

What three things did you learn from the placement which will help you in your future studies/career?

Networking skills, coding skills, and communication skills. I’ve really developed these skills throughout the placement. My coding skills have definitely improved in python / SQL.

What were the challenges?

The key challenges included developing the ‘know-how’ to communicate with senior colleagues and with different stakeholders.  Developing my presentations and ensuring they were clear and concise. I expected the culture to be very serious and hard-working but it turned out to be hardworking AND really friendly. Everyone was very welcoming and helpful to placement students. I learned that I needed to be confident and believe in myself. Due to the nature of working with data, I would be challenged by more senior colleagues about data validity. This was definitely a challenge, but I learned to be confident with the work I produced. I also realised that there is always more to learn from other people, which I found particularly humbling.

How has the experience helped you in terms of your employability skills?

The experience has really helped to develop my skillset. I know now how to take my time when presenting and not talk too quickly. My networking skills have improved as I have been able to attend events solely for networking, and I have expanded my network through LinkedIn. As I worked on various projects at HSBC, my project management skills really developed which also enabled me to develop my analytical and problem-solving skills. I found that you can learn more quickly by working with others rather than working on your own.

What are you looking forward to next term?

I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends again and getting back to my athletics training. I am looking forward to applying the knowledge I have learned from my placement into my university studies. I hope my skills will help me work more efficiently and effectively, as I’m working towards a first-class honours degree. I am keeping in contact with HSBC colleagues and collaborating with them while I’m at university.

What are your plans for the summer?

This summer I am looking to develop my coding skills in Java and creating some apps. I’ve become interested in financial investments and plan to look into this area in more detail. I am also going to mentor young black students with their employability skills and introduce them to large companies.

Anything else to add?

Anyone considering doing a year ‘s placement should definitely seize the opportunity. It helps to not only develop technical skills but also personal skills. It’s one of the best decisions I made. Finally, HSBC is an amazing company with a great culture. I hope to go back there as a graduate.

Find out more about placement opportunities.