Citi isn’t cutting the number of graduates it recruits in Singapore next year, despite slowing local economic growth and redundancies elsewhere in the banking sector.
In 2016 Citi took on around 200 graduates in Singapore, including about 50 into its management associate training programme (unlike other firms, Citi calls its trainees ‘associates’ rather than ‘analysts’, but they are still hired straight after completing undergraduate degrees).
“Most of the other 150 graduates were hired into other entry-level positions such as sales, services and operations. We expect about the same number to join us in 2017,” says Jorge Osorio, head of human resources, Citi Singapore.
Osorio talks to us about what it takes to get into Citi in Singapore as a graduate.
It’s been a tough year for Singapore banking. Has that affected your application numbers and graduates’ desire to working in the sector?
Students today do have more options outside of banking, and banking has been through challenging times these past few years. But I haven’t seen any decline in interest in graduate jobs at Citi in Singapore – our August roadshows at campuses here were very well-attended.
We employ about 9,200 people in Singapore – the largest headcount of any foreign bank – and we’re seen as deeply embedded in Singaporean financial services. A lot of ex-Citi people are leaders across the local finance sector, which is aspirational for graduates.
Our size and the complexity of our business here also helps us attract graduates and gives us an edge over our competitors – graduates realise that there are plenty of future opportunities to move around within the firm.
So which Singapore graduate jobs are generating the most applications for Citi?
Graduates will always be drawn towards the more conventional roles and that’s why we still get a lot of applications for client-facing jobs in investment banking and corporate banking. The ability to interact with clients and be a ‘banker’ still has a certain appeal.
But banking isn’t just about being a banker – we’ve seen a recent surge in interest in our technology graduate roles. Graduates in Singapore today are very focused on getting into careers where there are growth opportunities and digital banking is seen as one of those areas, especially with the Singapore government pursuing its Smart Nation policy.
Which type of students do you target?
We hire a lot from local universities in Singapore, but we accept applications from around the world. We’re committed to strengthening our ‘Singapore core’ of talent, but we’re also a multi-national bank so we’re open to talent from diverse backgrounds, to cater to the needs of our client base. We’re also open to different profiles – we don’t focus on the type of degree you have as long as you’re a well-rounded student.
I’m a student in Singapore starting a four-year undergraduate degree. How do I act early to boost my chances of getting a job with Citi when I graduate?
Rather than waiting until the final year, we’re targeting students earlier on in their academic years. In their second year we offer a mentorship programme in which students come into our offices to attend workshops and receive ongoing support and advice from senior Citi employees.
The mentorship helps to build a pipeline for our third-year ‘Citi Banking 101’ programme, which is a two-week intensive series of talks from senior bankers about their departments. It gives students an idea of our structure and how we operate.
What about internships?
We observe Citi Banking 101 participants and invite the ones that perform well to do summer internships with us in their fourth year of university. We have about 300 to 400 interns per year in Singapore. Our summer internships last eight weeks and students get to work in one department rather than rotate.
How many people actually make it through the various stages of your pipeline?
There’s approximately a 50% cut at each stage. Half our mentees get through to Citi Banking 101, and half of this group are accepted into internships. Then finally about 50% of our summer interns get full-time graduate jobs.
Tell us about the interview process for graduate jobs at Citi in Singapore
You can still apply to graduate roles at Citi even if you didn’t intern with us. You’ll face a three-stage recruitment process if we accept your initial online application:
1) An interview with HR.
2) An assessment centre. This includes a group case study, which mainly tests your technical skills, and an individual psychometric test.
3) A panel interview with senior management.
When does this all happen?
The interview process will begin in the first quarter of 2017. The application deadline for graduate jobs on our 2017 management associate programme is 4 November 2016.
What are your tips for succeeding at Citi graduate interviews?
You need to explain why you want to go into banking. Some people say, for example, that they want to address the changing needs of customers. But whatever you say, you need to come across as authentic, confident and relaxed.
You should also articulate why specifically you’re applying to Citi and how we will enable you to build your career – so do your homework and understand how we evolved locally, regionally and globally.
I’ve secured a place on your management associate training programme. What happens next?
Our management associate training programme in Singapore lasts for three years. It includes four rotations of six months each and then a 12-month stint in one department. There’s also the option of doing your final 12 months within another country in Asia.
To do well on the programme and beyond you need to be adaptable. Our business is constantly changing as the business environment and regulations evolve – and if you’re too rigid in your career plans you may not be able to cope with these changes.
Image credit: Citi