The first trip to Santander’s Leicester HQ was last Wednesday.
Early in the afternoon, everyone doing the award met at the Careers Service in the Union. Whilst waiting for the coach we all had a nice chat and got to know each other. It turns out there’s a lot of economics students on the award. I was feeling a bit nervous about being the only engineer until I found another one from my year. We’d both have someone to look at, mystified, when Santander talked about complicated banking ideas later.
Once everyone had arrived we all piled on to a coach and started the journey to the Leicester Santander HQ. Previously owned by Alliance and Leicester, it’s one of those big, glossy, glass fronted buildings with a foyer that’s several stories high and overlooked by balconies on every floor. It felt a bit intimidating, but then so can big groups of students!
We were all taken up to a seminar room for the main training. Over the course of the afternoon the speakers covered things like how banks make their money, how they work, and what Santander is like to work at. The last bit was done by new graduates, both of whom seemed to love it there. There was also a tour of the building, and a mock group exercise- like the ones applicants do at Santander assessment centres.
One of the things that surprised me about the Leicester HQ was how much of it was made up of call centres. I had no idea there were floors and floors of people dealing with queries and resolving complaints in Leicester! It was really interesting to hear that, after so much public annoyance with call centres abroad, Santander is employing people to answer phones in the UK.
It was also a bit of a surprise to see so many people in pyjamas. After enquiries, I found out it was to raise money for Children in Need.
The group exercise was really interesting. I’ve done a couple before at assessment centres for placements, but never a banking one. The idea was that we had to resolve some issues with a call centre, most of which could be solved quite simply. The focus, though, was not on our solution to the problem but on our methodology and how the group interacted to get to a resolution. We all learnt a lot, the main lessons I would take from the session being:
- Get everyone involved. Each new perspective can bring something to the team, and just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean their opinion is worthless.
- Ensure you keep an eye on the time!
- Plan the presentation. It looks unprofessional if you just have whoever was writing read out the conclusions to the assessors. The presentation at the end can also be a great chance to work as a group to show what you’ve done.
(I’ll hopefully be able to add some photos soon. Sadly my computer is playing up!)