In the Oriental Club off Oxford Street a room full of potential bright young things nervously introduce themselves to on another while attempting to assess the hurdles and hoops of the daunting City job market. Stanhope Capital has established a one-day course, entitled ‘An Introduction to the City’, which aims to inform young people about how to go about embarking on a career in asset management and what it entails.
Undeniably, the lure of decent pay is attractive to students facing debts of up to and beyond £30,000: ‘I do know I’ll have to pay it off somehow, so that’s a concern for the future,’ said budding pharmacology student Freddie Atac. ‘It seems like a good career opportunity, you seem to be able to get a decent salary which is a fairly important thing. I know so little about it so hopefully this will prove useful.’
But money doesn’t seem to be the top priority for all future graduates: ‘To be honest my main aim is to get a job rather than looking at the salary,’ said Xanthe Thompson, a geography student at Exeter University.
While many were there to scope out how to get a City pay check to wipe their debts, there were a number of students who showed a more detailed approach to their career choices: ‘I’m hoping to find out a bit more about different areas and also get some insight from people who are working in the City rather than what you might read second hand,’ said Peter Ireson, an economics student at the University of Bristol.
However, Ireson echoed Thompson’s concern on competition for jobs: ‘Quite a lot of my friends have applied to twenty or 30 internships and have yet to receive an offer, so it’s quite cut-throat at the moment.’
With an average of 80 applications per position, Stanhope Capital hopes it can provide an edge. Tips from speakers include asking the interviewer their opinion and using their answer in your next interview, taking notes throughout the interview process and at the end asking for their business card to help build up your network.
Don’t be a robot
Thomas Freeman, founder of head hunter Sanctuary Search, emphasised how his clients were wary of employing robots and the danger of ‘group think’; clients asked him to draw up all female, brought up abroad and non-Oxbridge shortlists.
It seems the old adages ring true – attention to detail, dynamism, innovation and, as Stanhope Capital partner Guy Paterson says: ‘Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted.’ Unsurprisingly, the course, open to friends of the firm, is oversubscribed ‘because things are incredibly tough’.
Paterson says the old days have gone, and banks no longer rent out The Randolph for big parties in order to entice grads: ‘Now it’s the other way round – now you have to work your way through the HR departments… which is a whole new dark art.’
Referring to his own daughter who had to apply to eighteen law firms during her finals, Paterson acknowledges ‘things are much, much tougher; any help we can give these bright young things will, we hope, indeed, be helpful’.