Our first speaker was Steve Ronan, a Relationship Manager from Natwest Bank. He looks after a group of 17 high end business customers who have large accounts with the Bank and need regular financial advice and expertise. He brought with him two colleagues: Monica and Chantelle. Monica explained that she did well for her GCSE examinations and went on to Alevels which she disliked. She decided to drop these and apply for a BTEC or Apprenticeship. She chose to accept an apprenticeship and started with Natwest Bank. She explained that the entry criteria are just C or above in Maths and English. You then have to complete coursework and exams along the way which leads to a professional certificate in banking. You can continue to work for a Diploma which leads on to a career pathway to Management.
Shantelle explained that she had gone to University after school and succeeded in gaining a degree in Business IT. After University she could not get a job in anything she had actually been studying. She eventually gained a temporary position in a Natwest call centre. While she was there, she discovered a training course within the Bank where she had to take further coursework and examinations as well as doing the job in the call centre. This led to her becoming an Assistant Manager, then Manager and on to Property Management within the Bank. She then took a step back to bring up her family, and has now re-entered the Company. She is now working on the counter and undergoing training which will later lead back to Management.
Steve explained that he had been with the Bank for 38 years, having left school with grades of C, D and E. He said that he still does not understand how he managed to get into the Bank when he was interviewed. He said that they must have taken a liking to him or seen something in him. He was sent on Day Release courses in those days, which he totally squandered. Eventually he was ‘thrown off’ the courses but the Bank still continued to employ him for some reason. Then he was in a relationship which seemed to give him a new perspective on life and he started Evening Classes which eventually led to a Degree in Business.
All three said that they had succeeded at the Bank via differing pathways and all are or will be doing well, without the debts that modern students are incurring. They said that Education is all very well, but success is really down to life skills, time management, good communication and punctuality. This caused some surprise to our students!
It was explained that application for Apprenticeships involves suitable grades, an online Application form, video interview and then an actual ‘face to face’ interview. From 8,000 applications last year, 500 were accepted. They then answered questions from the students.
The afternoon session was given by two lady representatives from LSE. They were called Bea and Katherine. They introduced themselves to the students, Bea said her job is a Marketing Intelligence Officer. Katherine was there in a supervisory capacity and was assessing her performance. Bea gave a slide presentation and answered question. She explained that LSE was set up as an institution to encourage people to think differently and in a more radical way. It dates from 1895 and has its roots in the Fabian Society who were a group of famous philanthropists and alternative thinkers. They included such people as George Bernard Shaw and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. LSE has approximately 11,000 students, of which 6,000 are graduates and 5,000 are undergraduates. They offer 42 undergraduate programmes, and 25 departments and institutes. They are a college of the University of London, and have over 140 nationalities on the campus with more than 100 languages spoken. Staff come from over 110 countries. There are over 100 regional alumni groups, and 37 world leaders have studied or taught at LSE.
They have the largest library in the world of books written by women, including literature and memorabilia from the Suffragette Era.
They have over 40 Degree Programmes including Accounting and Finance, Economics and Economic History, Mathematics, Geography, Law, Statistics, Philosophy, Politics in various combinations. They provide Public Lectures which anyone can attend, and a very active careers service. There are opportunities for long exchanges with foreign universities and language studies as part of degrees. There are 13 halls of residence and six inter collegiate halls with in the University of London. There are single and double rooms. Student fees are expensive, even more so for overseas students.
Most students eventually go into Banking or Finance, Accountancy and Auditing. In addition to explaining what is needed in an application to LSE, Bea emphasised the importance of a good personal statement, written clearly in good academic English with excellent spelling, punctuation and grammar. She suggested details of extra-curricular work such as for the voluntary sector, work experience, sporting achievements and any paid work. There are many ways of keeping in touch with LSE and getting involved, including student blogs open days, shadowing and taster courses and other public events.
They both took questions from the floor and some students stayed to ask questions after the event. The day was then brought to a close.