Christy Simanjuntak: Global Credit Analyst at HSBC UK

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November 18, 2019

Christy, from Indonesia
I grew up in Bali. I studied Economics at SOAS University, based in London. My full-time job is as a Graduate Trainee at HSBC UK. It is a three years placement and we rotate across roles. My current title is now Global Credit Analyst. 

The transition from Indonesia to the UK
I think this journey of adjustment from the home country to the UK is a very personal, different experience for each student. In the UK the assessments are more essay-heavy, you really need to know your topic and you need to write it very well. 
I have to say I knew about nothing more than my student VISA. I did not really think about the job hunting process with respect to the VISA process. 

The UK job scene
I have been quite lucky that I always wanted to get into banking and it happens to be one of the industries that sponsor quite a lot of international students. I have heard stories about engineers who wanted to pursue engineering, but they are more likely to end up in banking because of this reason. 

Resources and tools used in the job-hunting process:
I visited the careers services at my University. And they mentioned Student Circus as a website that enlists the companies that sponsor VISAs. In that sense, Student Circus is a bit more tailored. I have always used Student Circus since I think the most painful bit is when you sit through all the online assessments for a company vacancy and pass them and then in the face-to-face interview you find out that they do not provide sponsorship. It is very disheartening. 

Student Circus shows the list of companies that will definitely sponsor the VISA, so you feel confident in taking your application forward. We can also find a list of companies that offer sponsorships to people online in a pdf format but it is very lengthy. But that has to be referred to with a grain of salt  because even if a company is listed there, it is not necessary that they will sponsor Tier 2 or that their sponsorship will apply to new students. There are other requirements like a minimum salary. So it is not stated there, and all these filters make it very difficult to be 100% sure about a vacancy being sponsored. 
I have visited my careers services once every year when the academic session began. I would definitely recommend CV doctor. I used to submit my CV and get their advice on it regularly. I wanted to pursue humanities first, but then I did an internship at the United Nations in New York and when I came back, I changed my mind. Then I wanted to do something else, and that is how I ended up picking banking. But throughout this journey, the Careers Services have been very helpful. 

Application process and timelines:
The first stage was an online form that was fairly straightforward and took me 10-15 minutes. Then you get invited to online assessment tests - all applicants have to finish a set of numerical tests and a set of behavioural tests. And then if you pass that one you get to the next stage of job simulation. This part is a bit heavier on the core values, your personality, how you handle pressure on a daily basis. It is a bit tricky because it is not something you can learn and pinpoint. You may learn it over time, but the parameters are very ambiguous. 
Once you have finished the job simulation, they ask you to wait to hear back from them. Some people got a reply within 3 days, I waited for 3 months, so there really is no standard timeline here. 
I cannot stress this enough- start as early as possible. For the HSBC programme, they opened applications in September and I applied within the first three weeks of that since I had actually been waiting for them to open it.  The online assessment was done the week after, the job simulation was conducted the week following that and then I waited for 3 months. This was December when they came back to me with an email that intimated me that I'd been invited to an assessment centre. I had a month to prepare and the assessment centre was scheduled in February. And then in March they finally called with an offer for the job.  A verbal confirmation was made and then the process was started. 
Once the offer was made, documents had to be submitted (including copy of passport, copy of residence permit, among other things) and once I had furnished these documents, they took care of it because they have an in-house team that looks after the process for international students. I did have to attend an interview at the Home Office but that’s about it. 

Make the process less intimidating: go prepared into the escapade
My strategy was this - from 4 to 5 each day after lectures, I would just sit and apply to companies. It started randomly at first, and then I started narrowing the names down. 
I took some practice tests for numerical ability tests. For the behavioural tests, I would just ask myself a question - how would I like to be seen when I first enter a room - and that stuck by as a way to answer these questions. 
I think it is helpful to look at the company values as well. Barclays emphasises on Service, Stewardship, Integrity, Respect and Excellence. 
I applied to a lot of companies. I even have a spreadsheet that tracked all the companies that I applied to. And then I marked them progressively as I passed the first stage, the second stage and so on. So you can see I tracked my progress very neatly. I think it came up to around 40 companies by the end. 

A Day in the Life
So my title is a bit lengthy: Global Unsecured Credit Risk Analyst. On a usual day, I come into the office at 8.30, get a  briefing from my manager with the rest of the team about the goals and deadlines. 9 AM is when the day officially starts. I look at the numbers and credit risks in all of the markets in which we operate. We look at the Malaysian market, Indian market, Latin American market, etc so it is a lot of places. We are constantly balancing time zones. 

A Word of Caution
Statistically speaking, I think most of the batch-mates have gone back home, primarily because of the VISA hurdle. I would just tell the incoming international students to understand that University life is a lot about being independent and that translates in the job hunt as well. It is no one's responsibility to nudge you in the right direction or spoon feed you information. You need to be inquisitive, but that's not enough, you should be asking the right questions. A lot of my friends who couldn't bag an offer were actually unaware of the nuances. They didn't know about the timelines, or about the length of the process. They came late to the party - you cannot afford to apply in August 2018 if the VISA expires in September 2018. Not many companies will be willing to take that risk. 

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