Pathways to Progress: Citi Enables Career Ready Interns in London
By Peter Cunningham, Citi Europe, Middle East and Africa Head of Treasury & Trade Solutions Corporate Sales – Consumer & Healthcare August 17, 2017 03:00 PM
In February 2017, the Citi Foundation announced its expansion of its commitment to empowering urban youth with an additional $100 million investment to impact the lives of 500,000 young people in cities around the world by 2020. To support these efforts, Citi is mobilizing 10,000 Citi volunteers to serve as mentors, coaches, and provide professional advice to help young people move towards their career goals.
I recently celebrated my 20th anniversary with Citi, after starting at the company fresh out of school. Despite the passage of time, I can still clearly remember the fear and trepidation of applying for and securing my first role as a Citi summer Intern, based in London. I am the first person in my immediate family to attend university and work for a large company, and I am humbled and consider myself to be very lucky in the career I have built at Citi. I can clearly remember the Intern recruitment process and feeling that I didn’t have the guidance, knowledge and connections that it seemed many of my Intern peers arrived with. These experiences instilled in me a sense of wanting to help others.
Today’s youth face a variety of barriers that prevent them from entering the workforce and reaching their true potential. I recently read the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress: Global Youth Survey 2017, which found many young people believe barriers such as not having enough professional connections, the right education, or on-the-job experience are the reason they may not succeed in their chosen careers.
As a father and business person, I know that we cannot ignore what young people are telling us about their futures. That’s why I was very proud when earlier this year the Citi Foundation expanded its Pathways to Progress initiative globally with a focus on empowering young people by providing them with experiences and opportunities to develop their skills, access new environments, and challenge their perceptions of the workplace. The Citi Foundation works with the UK-based NGO Career Ready to prepare young people for today's competitive job market. In addition, Citi UK is working with Career Ready to place hundreds of disadvantaged young people into companies across the country to allow them to experience the world of work.
Beyond my day-to-day client focused role, for the past three years, I have had first-hand experience of working with Career Ready as an Intern Manager, a role that has given me an amazing opportunity to help youth grow. This summer, I welcomed three new Interns into my team to develop work-related skills, learn about the types of roles in banking, and witness the diverse mix of clients and colleagues contributing to progress. In total, Citi hosted 95 Interns across the UK during a four week programme, or more precisely 140 hours - the optimum amount of time for an internship to truly impact a young person's life according to research by the National Academy Foundation.
The Interns on my team spent time learning about Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions business, understanding how we interact with clients, and how the bank operates. During their time at Citi, I encouraged the Interns to connect with colleagues from a variety of departments and businesses to learn from their experiences. However, it’s not just the Interns who learn and grow as a result of these experiences, I have too. Having the addition of three young and very capable people on my team, all of whom are yet to leave school or enter full-time employment, brought about fresh thinking and new innovative ideas in team meetings and discussions. It has also proven the ideal opportunity for team members to gain valuable experience in managing others and developing stronger communication and management skills.
Overall it was very rewarding to watch the Interns develop and grow during their placement, challenging their perceived barriers to feel empowered with knowledge that will enhance their life, and open their eyes to the options available post-school. I know they and the other Career Ready Citi Interns will achieve great things and I look forward to welcoming another cohort next summer.