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What’s in store for graduates?

Banking jobs may have taken a hit in the current economic malaise, but banks in Tokyo are still on the hunt for able graduates.

Barclays Capital in Tokyo is one office where graduate recruitment remains steady, with headcounts unchanged since the year started, according to Noreen Dooner, Barclays’ head of campus recruitment for Japan.

For students who opt for a graduate programme, what’s in store? Dooner explains the Barclays Capital programme lasts for one year and graduates are recruited across almost all divisions, including front office and infrastructure. Graduates “get various training on the desk locally but they also go away for training in London. The training is comprehensive and includes financial product knowledge and soft skills as well as networking activities,” she adds.

Firms like Barclays are interested in highly-motivated graduates with strong communications skills – but finance knowledge is not a pre-requisite.

“It is not imperative that students come from an economics or finance background, as training is provided,” says Dooner. “We look for people who are highly motivated by teamwork and contributing to the team effort. We do not work in silos so the ability to work with not only your own team but with other divisions is critical. Communication is another skill we stress. This is not only a language issue, but one of knowing how to taper the language to a particular audience as any one day involves communication with outside clients and vendors as well as internal divisions.”

An intern’s experience

While many graduate recruits go on to have glowing banking careers, one summer 2008 intern at a US bank in Tokyo says she had mixed experiences.

“I am grateful for the experience, as I was able to learn a lot and had access to various materials that allowed me to study and read on my own time. But we were treated very badly and Liar’s Poker-style bullied for most of the summer,” the former intern says.

And she adds there was a very low conversion rate from intern to full-time employee where she was, with only three of 33 interns receiving contract offers. “Many desks have two or three interns on them and there is no way they can all have jobs,” she adds.

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