From summer intern to Wholesale Banking trainee – a success story
Thomas completed a two-month Summer Internship Program (SIP) at ING Germany in 2020, and then he spent a semester abroad. Soon after in April 2021, he came back to ING to join our International Talent Program (ITP) in Wholesale Banking. In June of 2022, the traineeship sent him to New York City for three months. Now, he has started as an analyst in ING's Capital Structuring & Advisory team in Frankfurt.
Thomas, why did you apply as a student for the SIP at ING?
After a dual studies program in business administration with a focus on banking at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, I completed a master's degree in finance at Lancaster University in England. After that, I was going to spend a semester abroad at the ESCP Business School in Paris. I wanted to use the time between my exams and the start of the semester abroad to gain experience in an international working environment. The summer internship at ING Germany in Wholesale Banking was simply the right choice for me.
What’s special about the Summer Internship Program?
Clearly, it was the opportunity to get to know different areas of the company in a relatively short period of time, just two months, which is rather unusual for internships. Numerous informational events specifically tailored to the program were very helpful and provided good insights into the working environment and many subject areas. Additionally, I appreciated that my preference to join a team was taken into account. The program was structured to ensure that I got to know summer interns from other areas. Even though my internship was in Wholesale Banking, for example, I worked with interns from other areas, such as from the "Agile Way of Working" unit. We were also able to organize an "Agile Game Night" together, as well as participate in other trainee events and info sessions. I was also grateful for how well I was integrated in my team. Due to the pandemic, there were three-week rotations, and I was able to support my team well, both in the office and remotely, while still getting to know everyone personally.
After finishing your studies, you decided to return to ING and start a trainee program…
Yes. In April 2021, I came back to ING and started the trainee program. I chose the International Talent Program – ITP for short – because it gave me the chance to familiarize myself with different areas, see different teams and work with them on a range of projects – even outside Germany. It was great that I was already familiar with the bank and my new colleagues thanks to the SIP, even though the traineeship started out remotely. The characteristic openness of my colleagues hadn't changed either, so I was able to continue gaining new insights, despite working remotely.
What is ING's ITP? Give us an idea of what it's like.
First of all, it’s certainly helpful to know that ITP stands for "International Talent Programme". It’s ING's trainee program available at all ING locations worldwide. Over a period of 18 months, trainees get to know different areas of the bank on a rotating basis at their location – in my case, Frankfurt. The different areas include Analytics, Finance, HR, Retail Banking, IT, and of course Wholesale Banking – the area I chose. In addition, as the name suggests, the ITP is international. International, not only because the traineeship is offered at all ING locations worldwide, but also because it includes the opportunity to go to an international location for three to six months, where you take part in regular training sessions together with the participants from different countries. Simply put, ITP is an entry-level program for graduates with a master's degree, and it's all about getting a solid foundation in exactly the areas you want to develop professionally in the future.
What skills and qualifications do you think students need for the ITP?
In addition to a completed master's degree, applicants should ideally have some practical experience, but you also need to be flexible. Besides fitting in with new teams, you’ll also be faced with challenging new tasks and topics. Staying open to new topics helps when it comes to gaining as much as possible from the various rotations and accumulating a lot of experience during the ITP.
International experience plays an important role in this program. Did you go abroad?
I was lucky to spend part of my time during the ITP in Wholesale Banking in New York City. It was a very educational experience, because I was able to learn about a new working culture, in addition to a foreign banking market. It’s really exciting to learn about cultural differences and similarities in comparison to your home country. The experience of working for ING in New York was very valuable for me – both personally and professionally.
Which project was your personal highlight so far?
Hmm..., I can’t really think of one single thing that stands out from everything else. I really appreciated that I was given a lot of responsibility throughout the trainee program. Another very important experience was the opportunity to work on various topics that advance ING as a bank and solve our customers' problems. At ING, this is particularly exciting in the area of sustainability, as well as financing the energy transition.
What other advantages does the program offer?
In my opinion, the main advantage, besides the experience abroad, is that we can challenge ourselves to explore our strengths during the 18-month program. It's easier to decide on a direction for your career when you get to know different areas. For example, there are areas where introverts and more analytical people feel comfortable, and there are others more suited to extroverts who enjoy contact with customers. Another advantage for trainees is that we don’t just have contact with colleagues from our chosen areas, but also with other trainees in the program. We do a lot together and regularly exchange ideas – not just in Germany, but also with ITP participants worldwide. We have a lot of sessions with trainees from other countries, where there’s an exchange of ideas that maybe wouldn’t be possible as a permanent employee.
How do you feel about the company and its philosophy?
It’s great that we have flat hierarchies and interact with each other at eye level, particularly in Wholesale Banking, but also at ING Germany in general. Even as a trainee, I'm asked for my opinion on certain topics. I'm well integrated in the team and can quickly take on responsibility. What particularly stands out for me is that everyone I’ve met in all the different teams and areas is open to new ideas – that's really valuable.