We all join not knowing how we will adapt to a new job, a new city
and new people.
Being in a graduate class helps develop a great sense of camaraderie;
it’s a bit like being in halls again at university. There are lots of jokes and
it means we can ask each other those silly questions you’d rather not ask more
senior people (saving us some face!).
This week our challenge was to get back into the exam
mindset. Barclays supports us to obtain the CFA
(Chartered Financial Analyst) qualification as part of our graduate programme. Whilst
this is one of the most prestigious qualifications in finance, it does have a
rather scary reputation with less than a 50% pass success rate, reflecting its
demanding schedule. Luckily Barclays provides us with study leave and schedules
a seven day intensive course, which we have just attended.
The idea of attending an intensive study course a few months
before the June exam is that we’re all at different stages and require
different guidance on how best to structure our revision. It highlights areas
where we might need to apply a bit more study time! It was also a great chance
to ask the course tutor questions that the books don’t answer.
Day one began with a 2 hour exam. It was a bit cruel first
thing in the first morning and some people needed more coffee than others to
get through it! We quickly learnt the purpose of doing these tests was not primarily
to pass or fail us but more for us to monitor our own progress to see if we are
The tutor gave us some really useful advice. He pointed out
areas that are frequently tested and how to best use our time depending on our
strengths. I thought it was useful to hear this now rather than spend months studying
areas that are unlikely to feature. One minor drawback though was the pace of the
sessions, an unfortunate consequence of having to cover a great volume of
content in a short duration.
Not all hard work
Although it was a study week it was great to be out of the
office with all the graduates. We got to explore the city during lunchtimes and
found some great food markets which helped us to relax during our breaks. The
city has a completely different atmosphere to working in Canary Wharf, so it
was good to experience a change of scenery. Our lunch time jaunts did oddly
make me feel a student again, what with marching around the in a large group of
graduates complete with rucksacks!
A nice element of gathering together in the same location
was seeing our fellow graduates from the regions and overseas who had travelled
to London for the course. It is great being part of a class and it brought back
memories of those first few days when we joined Barclays. At the end of the
week a few of us went for a drink to catch up properly, not a calculator in
sight I would like to add!
I found being back in a classroom environment a welcome reality
check. We got the results of the test we did on day one at the end of the
course and some people had scored really highly, which was a great motivator. It
was pleasing to see that the effort I’ve put in so far hasn’t been for nothing!
Most of us started studying around Christmas for the June exam
and it’s recommended to spend 300 hours studying to pass level 1. We are allocated
study leave the week before the exam but I might top this up with a few more
days to do more mock exams. Fingers crossed being back in the classroom will have
helped us all to pass come June!