Bright Network Finance Internship – My Personal Experience

I am a firm believer in lifelong learning – a topic that we will go into great detail on this platform.

When I returned from the US, I knew that commercial/corporate law was the area that I wanted to specialise in but in the current climate, gaining industry experience proved difficult. In law, I firmly believe that if you can understand the firm’s clients beforehand than you will be in a much better position to advise them when the time comes. Hence, I undertook this finance internship with Bright Network due to the volume of banking and corporate clients that the firms I am applying to have. Here are some of the transferable skills that I learned that can be applied to the legal industry.

Day 1

Networking and Managing yourself
  • Networking session with J. Kelly – ‘stop commiting random acts of networking’ – take an intentional, focused, deliberate and careful approach to broadening your network. As an extrovert, it’s important to learn from the introverts.
  • Organisation with Ben Carter – I learnt of a new system for prioritising tasks, otherwise known as a kanban board. This is a great tool to see your progression in a clear cohesive manner.
Introduction to Finance & Professional Services
  • I loved listening to Lylaa from EY talk about her two unsuccessful applications to EY and the ‘cool off period’ they operate under. I will implement this in my own legal career by taking time to reflect on career rejections and learn from my mistakes before re-submitting an application in the future.
  • I was interested to learn that you can enter the finance field from an array of degree backgrounds and that a lot of companies will actually provide a paid study leave to bring you up to speed. As long as you demonstrate key transferable skills such as team work, time management and communications skills and a genuine interest in finance, you will still be able to thrive in this area.
Introduction to Commercial Banking
  • Listening to Paul provide an introduction to commercial banking greatly appealed to me. I had no idea how many sectors were involved in a business like Lloyds. I particularly liked how he acknowledged that although you work within one sector, you must place yourself in a position to understand client’s whole business solutions and pull together all specialities. This is something that legal professionals will equally have to do.
  • Something great that I picked up on is when you set a goal, apply a proportional amount of effort to it and when you’re researching a company (or firm in our case) understand not only where the company was or is currently but in what direction it is heading. Use your time with the company to interview them also – it’s a two way street.
Introduction to Audit
  • I was pleasantly surprise with this session. In secondary school I took business studies and I noticed familiar terms creep up again such as a profit and loss account and balance sheet. Athena and Jack spoke in great detail about the ‘expectation gap’ along with their day to day life working with spreadsheets, travelling to meet clients and the transition to dealing with more long term assets.
Key Skills for Finance Trainees
  • The seminar with Suzie was extremely insightful, as many of the finance traits were similar to those required in the legal industry, such as business and global acumen, technical capabilities and relationships.
  • I loved her top tip of switching up your routine and waking up earlier, for example study before work. This ensures that the evening is left to reward yourself for your hard work throughout the day.
Introduction to Retail Banking
  • I thoroughly enjoyed learning from Tracie about the impact of Covid-19 on this sector, how this career chose her and her career highlights.
  • I was enthused by Tracie’s approach to the time period between Christmas and New Year, where she uses this time to update her cv, expand her personal skill set and look for opportunities to expand her personal portfolio even at her position.
Introduction to Tax
  • One of my favourite parts of today was this seminar. I really loved how Daisy described her role in undertaking due diligence for cross border M&A transactions.
  • As this is the area I want to specialise in, I found it fascinating to see transactions from the corporate tax point of view . She opened up a whole matrix of possibilities in relation to cross border elements and actually made learning about tax fun.

Day 2

Work sample
  • The morning session started with an introduction to a work sample. I understand that the code of conduct was strict on sharing this information so I won’t be going into great detail on this area. However, in layman’s terms, this involved creating a business proposal presentation to a partner at EY for a prospective new client. We had the day to work on outlining the company, how we could best advise on client’s needs in terms of recent developments and lastly, what future developments may impact our client and how they can be overcome.
  • I opted for google slides as I thought that these would be easier when it comes to getting feedback in tomorrow’s session.
  • I really enjoyed doing this task as it pulled on a variety of skills including teamwork, researching and drafting ability.
Alumni Office Hours
  • We had the chance to listen to such a variety of business and finance professionals during this 1 hour window however, I knew that I wanted to narrow down my subject field. I stumbled across a talk given by an M&A transactional risk analysis graduate from Willis Towers Watson and I was so invested in this talk that I never steered away from it.
  • I really loved listening to Hosanna talk about the importance her law degree was in her current role in insurance brokerage. I had the ability to ask her great questions and she provided me with great answers into the application process, covering letters and diversity.
  • It was fascinating to learn of the similarities between law and insurance brokering in terms of conducting due diligence, liaising with clients and reviewing legal documentation – definitely an area that I haven’t considered yet.
Teamwork and Collaboration seminar
  • What struck out to me in this seminar was the importance of understanding your company’s mission and your role in helping them to achieve their long term goals. Ben used an example from one of my biggest inspirations, JFK (I am slightly obsessed) in exemplifying this. He used the famous quote of when JFK asked a cleaner for NASA what they were doing – their response ‘helping to put a man on the moon’. It really is that simple.
  • I equally loved how Ben explained the importance of breaking down bigger tasks into smaller ones by drawing on trello boards (something that I had never heard of).
  • Lastly, teamwork and collaboration is all about forgiving mistakes. I had never thought of it like this but, making mistakes shows that you are trying and it completely changed my outlook on seeing mistakes in a negative light.

Day 3

  • This morning, we were provided with extra time to finish off and place final touches on our work sample. The team then walked us through a model sample and a marking matrix. It was interesting to see how they approached the proposal and how this lined up with my own draft.
  • I really enjoyed the 1:1 networking platform as it provided me with the ability to get personalised feedback and meet people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Lastly, the cv and sector role seminar provided by Abbie brought the internship to a great close. I learned some great tips on how to intermingle tasks that you have undertaken with the skills that you learnt from them and how to properly tailor your cv to the company you are applying to.

I want to say a huge thank you to Bright Network and the team for providing such detailed and well structured thought out seminars. I really appreciate the amount of time and effort to bring such a large project together in under 10 weeks.

I will be undertaking the commercial law internship with Bright Network starting next week so let me know if any of you guys are undertaking it and if you have any questions.

On a final note, I want to say how important I think it is to use this incredibly difficult time to grow as a person and expand your skill set through opportunities like this. Don’t narrow your horizons and really think outside the box in terms of gaining transferable skills relatable to your field.

Thank you for reading,

Until next time,

Evangeline.