Lincoln International Business School MSc Accounting and Finance student, Connor Hobbins, has successfully secured a professional practice work placement at Handelsbanken.
Connor, whose interest in finance started during his undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Lincoln, told us about why he chose Lincoln and tips for gaining a placement interview.
“I chose to study at Lincoln due to it being relatively close to my home and, as I had barely been to the city before, it still felt new” says Connor.
“I am really glad that I did” he added. “My time at University of Lincoln was the best time of my life so far and if you get fully involved with everything and fully throw yourself into the experience, it is great.”
Connor decided to study maths at undergraduate after studying the subject at GCSE and A-level. During his second year at university, he realised that he wanted to go into finance.
“Going into third year I knew that I wanted to choose a finance dissertation, which worked out really well in helping me choose the next steps.”
After graduation, Connor started to look for summer internships or placement positions to undertake before returning to study a Master’s degree.
“After my BSc, I started applying for summer internship/placement positions as my plan was to take a year out before doing a Master’s course and that is when I first applied for Handelsbanken along with a few other companies.
“I got through the initial stages and was ready for the assessment centre, however, this got cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and replaced by a telephone interview. I got through that stage and then the next and final step was a branch manager interview, but unfortunately the whole internship programme ultimately got cancelled due to Covid.”
With the current situation unpredictable, Connor started looking at his options and decided to study the MSc Accountancy and Finance with professional practice year instead.
“The thing that made me choose the course was that it was a finance-based course with a professional practice option, where I could do a placement year. I thought this was the right thing to do, to give me some flexibility, gain some experience in a financial area with a placement that I could source myself and then write my dissertation/final project on something to do with this placement – it was ideal really.
“The Accounting and Finance course was what I hoped it would be, maybe a bit wordy at times, but altogether great. I feel like I got a really good hold on most modules and I would really recommend the course for people that are not quite set on a certain financial area.
“There are modules based on Accounting that go really in depth with the accounting side of finance, while there are other modules that evaluate how a company runs both financially and internally, how financial markets work and then optional modules like investment banking, it all links together.
“For the range it gives in a year it is a challenging course but I personally have learnt a lot from it and it has given me a better idea for what I want to do in the future.”
During his Master’s year, Connor discovered that the Business School had a student-managed investment fund (LSMIF).
“I am really interested in the stock markets and the idea of investing so I joined LSMIF at the start of the year. I put a lot of time and effort into the fund, in doing the tasks but then also doing background reading into what I was actually doing and applying that, which actually helped me out with my course a lot in the end.
“I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did but I ended up putting together some decent reports for the fund and one of my investment recommendations got actioned in my first couple of months which was pretty cool.
“I would highly recommend it to anyone in the University, even if they have just a slight interest in financial markets and investing as my only regret is that I didn’t hear about it until my Master’s year!”
Whilst undertaking the course, Connor’s attention turned to securing a placement for his professional practice year.
“So, during this last year my main task has been to source a placement, which during Covid was really hard since not that many firms were hiring and there were two or three years of students applying.
“During this time, I was still in contact with Handelsbanken from the previous year but made sure to ask whether they had a year-long placement instead of the normal eight week internship that they ran. After interviews for other places, I got a call from a branch at Handelsbanken asking if I could do an interview the next day which was a bit daunting, so I did the interview and it went really well and then got an offer the next week which was unbelievable!”
Work placements can be invaluable due to the experience and skills you learn putting theory into practice. At his placement, Connor wants to really understand the different roles within the organisation.
“The main thing I want to gain from this is to find out exactly what every role entails, whether it be the role that I am doing, managerial jobs on the corporate or individual (personal banking) sides of things, or in roles that are in support functions, like the finance department. To me it is all about gaining experience and knowledge, so I am just going to try get stuck into as many different things as possible and then hopefully know exactly where I want to move into after the placement year and what career path I want after that point.”
After securing a year long placement, Connor has this advice for those also looking to secure a placement:
“The main tip I would give is to just be yourself and speak to the interviewer like you would to anybody else, after all, it is really just a conversation. If you can make it like a normal conversation you will be a lot more relaxed and come across happier and a lot more confident.
“Before my last couple of interviews I was really nervous, with stacks of notes on what to say if I got asked a certain question and it just didn’t help at all, I sounded like a robot reading off a script.
“Realistically you just need to know the company, know the job role and as strange as it sounds, know yourself since the interview is ultimately about you. After I started thinking like that, the process just became so much easier and I came across so much more confident whilst having a normal talk and laugh with the interviewer.”
Connor believes that his course and extra-currircular activies helped aid him during the placement application process. He said:
“One of the main thing that I learned is time-management. So all of my interviews were around my deadlines and there was so much to do in a really short amount of time so I had to really think about what I wanted to prioritise, whilst also giving myself some time to relax.
“With interviews, the only thing that helped me out was just practice, looking at unsuccessful interviews as practice for my next one and improving the method I approached it.”
Find out more about MSc Accountancy and Finance degree or LSMIF. For information on placements the Lincoln International Business School Global Experiences team will be happy to help. Find out more here.