International collaboration and global networking
Tell us briefly how you came to ING? (Joschka)
After receiving my Master in Finance at the Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, I was specifically looking for a suitable trainee program to start my career. When a friend of mine recommended ING’s International Talent Programme (ITP), I was struck by the flexibility of the program. I also thought the application process was well organized and fair.
Can you explain a bit about ING’s International Talent Programme? (Jan)
The ITP takes four years, starting with an 18-month rotation phase. During this time – and not before the start of the trainee phase like at other companies – you will select your first permanent position. The ITP is offered for different disciplines. I started as a finance trainee in Frankfurt in 2018. Other key areas include IT, Wholesale Banking, Risk Management, Operations & Change, and Analytics. Once a year, a two-week Global Learning Event takes place, in which all trainees of the same year come together from different countries to meet and work on both general and specialized topics. It’s an excellent opportunity to expand your personal network.
How exactly did you apply to ING (Joschka)?
After I successfully concluded the online application, I was invited to a telephone interview for a first personal meeting. It was a positive experience for both sides, and I was invited to a "Company Day" together with other applicants. This is a kind of informal assessment meeting where, in addition to professional qualifications, there is a strong focus on your personality. On this day, I had the opportunity to get to know the bank better and meet some of the employees. Trainees there told us about their work and experiences abroad and answered my questions. Another part of the selection process was a personal interview, which focused on me, my self-assessment and my interests.
What was your experience when you started? And where are you currently working? (Jan)
Two years ago, I joined the Management Accounting department in Frankfurt together with eight other trainees from different departments. The mentor and buddy program helped me to network quickly and smoothly within the bank. For about a year now, I’ve been working as a permanent employee in the Management Reporting & Business Advice department. Specifically, I am responsible for topics such as profitability analysis, business partnering and various types of reporting. What I appreciate about my work is the variety of tasks and the mixture of qualitative and quantitative analyses and reporting, which keeps my daily work varied and interesting. I am especially proud of the great cooperation in my team, which I enjoy very much.
The ITP includes so-called rotations. What are they exactly? (Joschka)
Rotations are the different stations in individual teams or departments that you get to know as a trainee. The first station is organized for you, and later rotations can be arranged individually. I found it particularly interesting to look at and work on overarching issues from different perspectives. In the process, I gained a wide range of insights into the company, quickly recognized the connections and, above all, was able to build up a large network.
How do you feel about the company and its philosophy? (Joschka)
ING's corporate culture is characterized by a special open atmosphere, which immediately inspired me, especially talking to people on a first-name basis which isn’t so typical for trainees. We’re even on first-name basis with our CEO. A regular exchange with the management is encouraged – even desired. Trainees are given a lot of responsibility right from the start. In return, however, we were expected to contribute our own ideas and suggestions and implement them, naturally, with the support of the entire team.
International experience plays an important role. Have you already been abroad? (Jan)
The program has a clear international focus. The aim is to better understand the ING Group as a whole and to get to know it on a global level. Trainees can decide for themselves where they want to go within the program. Many trainees are attracted to the head office in Amsterdam, but New York, Singapore, London or Madrid are also popular destinations. Each trainee organizes their stay on their own. I chose New York and worked in Management Accounting while I was there. I made the most of my previous experience in Germany and was even able to make valuable contributions for my New York colleagues.
In addition to the experience I gained in the departments and in New York, I also benefited from an intensive exchange with other trainees.
What further education or training does the program offer? (Joschka)
There are different qualifications and exams depending on the subject area. The first-level "Chartered Financial Analyst" (CFA) certification was part of my compulsory program in the finance area. I have decided to take Level 2 and 3, as well. I see it as an extra challenge to prepare myself for the exam independently in addition to my job. Sometimes it’s a balancing act, but ING supports me. I am very grateful for that. Alternatives to the CFA include Financial Risk Manager (FRM) or further training in project management. But also highly valued are engineering skills (programming/IT) and the further development of soft skills.
What inspires you about the trainee program at ING? (Joschka)
Joschka: Definitely the international network. Over a relatively short time, I’ve come into contact with a huge number of employees from different countries covering a wide range of expertise and knowledge. ING's ITP also differs from many other trainee programs with respect to its high degree of flexibility and individualization.
About Jan & Joschka
My highlight (Joschka): “During the International Talent Programme (ITP), I worked with many colleagues from different departments and countries over a relatively short period of time. In the process, a broad network developed almost by itself. The different perspectives and topics that I learned about along the way have helped me a lot to understand the bigger picture and the bank as a whole.”
Why ING? (Jan): “After university, ITP was the ideal way to start my professional life, because I was able to learn about a variety of functions in the finance department. After the trainee program, I focused on one area where I then started a permanent position. During the rotation phase, the ITP includes a stay abroad, which I spent in New York. The big advantage of the trainee program at ING is that your interests and personal development always play a central role. I was able to be very flexible – and not only in my choice of local specialist areas.
In addition to this professional flexibility during the program, the modern corporate culture of ING was an important factor for me. It is strongly characterized by an agile mindset, relaxed way of talking with one another, and a great willingness among colleagues to help out.”
My tip for applicants (Jan): "Never lose your curiosity and willingness to learn as part of your everyday work ethic. When working together, we expect teamwork and openness, but also the ambition to work on topics independently. In return, I’ve found that I am quickly entrusted with responsible tasks.”