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My experience with banking's "degree apprenticeships"

I wanted to be a programmer. Then I accidentally climbed one of the hardest ladders in finance.

My plan was relatively straightforward, on paper at least: to go to a top university, study computer science, work as a software engineer. Getting top grades at A level made the world (well, the British higher education system, at least) my oyster. I researched and found out about the degree apprenticeships that were offered mostly by investment banks. I applied for them all, and after rounds of interviews and CV submissions, I got into my number one choice.

Don’t think for a second that doing a degree apprenticeships is an “easy” option. Over 4,000 people applied for 28 degree apprenticeship places across the entirety of my bank this year – an acceptance rate less than 0.7%. That’s less than some of the most competitive summer analyst program (1.27%).

The interview process is particularly strenuous. Expect a HireVue interview, as well as three half-hour zoom interviews. JPMorgan has a telephone interview, an assessment center, a group interview, a standard one-to-one interview, and then another (purposefully misleading) HireVue interview. No matter how smart you are, or think you are, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble through that sort of interview process. And you’re competing against more than 140 people per place.

From my own understanding, the bank also covers your tuition fees and gives you a salary. You also get promoted to associate quicker than your peers – after a year and a half instead of after three.

And at the end of all that? Well, you graduate with a BSc degree, have four years of part-time experience as an engineer, and a graduate offer to return to the firm as a full-time software engineering analyst. You’re also in a much better position financially than other 18-year-olds, and you secure a career at a top firm earlier on than anyone else in the industry.

Garfield Arbuckle is a pseudonym.

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AUTHORGarfield Arbuckle Insider Comment
  • Jo
    22 September 2023

    GS' apprenticeship program undoubtedly carries prestige. That said, given London's cost of living and the demands of such a role, a starting salary nearer to £45k would seem more appropriate, especially when juxtaposed with intern remuneration.

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