Name: Mica Townsend
Subject of Study: BSc Economics & Management, 2010
Role: Private Banker at Barclays Weatlh
How did you find out about Royal Holloway?
I attended an Economics Taster Day, organised by the University of London, which was all about studying economics at degree level. The Taster Day happened to be held at Royal Holloway; I had not heard anything about the College prior to that. Once I was there, immediately as you enter the campus, I just got the right feeling for the place. After the economics talk we were able to walk around campus and talk to current students. I spoke to two girls who were so enthusiastic and after that I knew that it was the place that I wanted to be. In addition, the course has a great reputation and I was able to combine my interests in Management and Economics in a joint honours programme.
Had you studied Economics before?
I was studying Business but hadn’t done Economics at A Level, and part of my reason for attending the Economics Taster Day was to get a sense of how much the course differed from Management. Starting the course wasn’t too bad, though, as they did say that what you cover in A Level is also covered in the first couple of lectures in Year One. I did need to have Maths A Level, however; there is a course with lots of statistics and I think going into that without a sufficient level of background knowledge would have been too difficult. I made sure I spoke to a lot of people about the course to prepare myself and decided that it was something I could catch up on.
What part of Economics particularly interests you?
There are two strands to the course. The first is to do with numbers, statistics and is much more mathematical. The other is the social science aspect. By third year, I was most interested in themes like labour markets, economics in developing countries and so on. These courses emphasised reading papers to learn theory and then to see how that theory applied in practice.
What support was available to you?
There is a lot of support from the academics. You are given all the relevant contact details at the start of the year and academics encourage you to come to see them during their office hours. The smaller tutorial groups are often taught by PhD students so they are another person to go to. Tutorial leaders would often put on additional sessions in which they would address a specific area of concern in very small groups of two to three people. They would sit with you until you understood what was going on!
What did you do after graduating?
At the start of my third year I had started applying for graduate schemes. Although I had been offered a position at HSBC, I decided that I wanted to go down the route of private rather than corporate banking. Through various careers alerts and finance days I heard about the scheme at Barclays. After a pretty rigorous interview process, I knew by mid-November that I had a position. That was a real weight off my shoulders: it meant that I wasn’t having to balance studying for my final year exams with going out to interviews.
What interested you about private banking?
Through the stuff I had done at university I knew that I was interested in finance, and particularly in private banking because of the client interaction. My clients are real people who have built up their wealth in different ways and so it’s a more personal business. My favourite thing about the job is going out to the client meetings; it is interesting to see how the way in which someone has built up their wealth influences their investment decisions.