When you think of finance roles in B-school, you think of Investment Banking or Corporate Finance roles. To be honest, I wanted to be a part of either of these two. But as fate had it, I got placed at HSBC and was hired in the Global Trade and Receivables Finance - Sales division. This was something I had never expected and was something that I was apprehensive about. Little did I know that these 8 weeks would turn out to be the most memorable ones.
The Selection Process
So I will begin from where it all started – the selection process.
HSBC, after initial shortlisting, asked us to complete a psychometric test after which we all sat for two rounds of Group Discussions. Both these rounds were eliminative in nature. Final shortlisted students went for an interview. My interview was related to everything that was on my CV. It was more of conservation where they wanted to get to know me better. They talked about everything from my hobbies to my job and my undergraduate degree. Though they did not ask me any technical questions, I had prepared for this interview by brushing up on the basics of Finance & know as much as I could about the company.
And It Begins!
Fast forward to the induction process, which was a two-day event and took place in Taj Lands End, Mumbai. The Induction process comprised of fun-filled and ice-breaking activities along with various presentations about HSBC policies and their work culture. We also got an opportunity to interact with leaders from various divisions of HSBC.
So the induction ended and we came to our respective locations. For me, it was Bangalore. On my first day, I met my buddy and he helped me with everything, be it getting my laptop or showing me the cafeteria. During the second half, my Guide gave me a brief about my project. My project was designing the roadmap for expansion for HSBC in the Middle Market in South India. The scope of this project included finding new target markets, sector & cities in South India, estimating the addressable market for HSBC in the Middle Market Segment & reviewing the product suite offered by HSBC. My guide explained to me every aspect of the project and asked me to give it a thought on how I wanted to proceed and run it through him the next day.
Next day, I showed him the flowchart of the project to which, after a few changes on the basis of his suggestions, he gave me the green signal and I immediately started working on it. So, for starters, I compiled a list of Listed and Non- Listed companies in southern India. Sites like Moneycontrol, Fundoodata proved extremely useful in this regard. This list was segregated first on the basis of states and then on the basis of the sector.
The next step was to narrow down this list on the basis of Revenue, External Credit Rating & EBIDTA. Further, I took insights from people working in HSBC and its competitors like Citibank, Standard Chartered, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank. For this step, I had prepared a questionnaire consisting of questions which were both objective and subjective in nature to gain insights about which sector and cities offered opportunities that could be targeted. This questionnaire also helped me in gauging if there was any gap in the Products suite and technology being offered by HSBC and the other banks. On the basis of all this, I collated the final list of companies in the middle market along with sector and cities that HSBC could target and also calculated the addressable market for HSBC.
While I was working on this, my guide used to sit with me and review my work every alternate day. He used to give me suggestions and help me whenever I would hit a roadblock and needed a different and fresh perspective. I not only bugged him with my problems but also took the help of my other colleagues. Everyone, although busy, always found time to help me with my project. I also had an interaction with the India Head of GTRF Sales in which he gave valuable pieces of advice and suggestions for my project.
Towards The End
Finally came the D–day and I was supposed to give my final presentation. I gave my presentation to the India Head of GTRF Sales along with my Guide and an HR. My presentation lasted for approximately an hour and was a very interactive one. Everyone listened to me patiently and posed questions whenever they felt like some clarification was needed. It felt more like a conversation on my project rather than some boring presentation where everyone was just listening for the sake of the listening.
My guide is the Senior Vice President and Area Head – GTRF. He helped me at every point while at the same time ensuring that I was not being spoon fed and have ample space to figure out things on my own. He made time from his busy schedule for knowledge transfer and explained to me how HSBC works, what is expected of me and everything I needed to be able to work smoothly.
After these 8 weeks, I have realised there are some learnings which can help every intern, irrespective of their area of internship, which I have encapsulated below:
1. Ask Questions
Never be shy of asking the questions. Not only does it help you understand where you are lagging but questions act as a good ice-breaking activity. This does not mean you should bug people the second you have a question. A better way is to compile a list of question and then ask for their time to get you your answers.
2. Build A Strong Network
Use your internship stint to make new connections and build your network. Your networking can take you to places you would have never imagined.
3. Understand The Culture
You should make sure you understand well the culture of the company you are interning with and try to figure out if it is something that is the right fit for yourself.
4. Figure Out Where Your Heart Lies
Use this opportunity to figure out if you want to continue with the field you are interning. For me, my internship worked as the perfect way to understand closely the banking industry and trade finance specifically. It helped me determine if I wanted to major in Finance and also if I wanted to work in the banking industry.
5. Communicate With Your Guide
Clear communication is the key to building better relations. Your guide is the one person who understands the project well and can help you with everything only if you communicate with him/her clearly. He/She should know what progress have you made and what problems you are facing.
6. Be Proactive
There could be a time when your guide is not able to give you time. During such times, make sure you walk up to them and ask for work. This will show your interest in contributing something to the company.
7. Learn As Much You Can
Don’t limit yourself to the division you are interning in and try to talk to people from other divisions as well. This way you will get to know the company well and also help you with what you want to do in life. Also, you never know you might get to know something which may help you with your project as well.
8. Have Fun
Internships sound boring but that’s not the way it is. My internship was not just about the work. We used to have parties on the smallest occasions and had a lot of fun also.
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