Europe may have experienced a long financial crisis in recent years, but as one of the world’s largest trading blocs and boasting such financial centres as London, Paris and Frankfurt, Europe continues to provide graduates with study and career opportunities in finance.
Graduate recruitment certainly slowed during the recession as financial firms in Europe focused their efforts on cutting costs, but if you are a recent graduate or are entering the graduate recruitment process, you will likely have noticed an upturn. You will likely also notice how intense the competition for jobs is, and financial firms are looking for more than just a strong degree and high levels of academic performance. Recruiters are also looking at what else you have to offer – extracurricular achievements being just one. Interest in a career in finance, such as undertaking an internship, is a good demonstration of a commitment on the part of the graduate to a career in this area, so as you pursue your studies, look into the option of internships.
Using your studies to demonstrate an interest in finance is about more than internships, however. As Europe recovers economically, finance firms are on the front foot in terms of pursuing new opportunities, and those students who can demonstrate a flair for entrepreneurship will be in high demand, so use your time at college to set up your own business as a sideline. Joining a financial network is another option, and in this digital, globalised world of ours, a financial network need have no borders, allowing you to interact with people from different parts of the world. Potential employers in the European financial sector will spot your ability to see things from a global perspective – a valuable asset in any recruit.
You have heard the phrase “thinking outside the box”, and it is just as relevant to graduate career options as it is to anything else. Aside from the big names in finance, with their high-profile graduate recruitment campaigns, there are many smaller banks, investment houses and insurance firms that take people on. Consider those financial institutions from Asia and Africa, for instance, which are trying to gain a foothold in the European market and need graduates to help them establish a presence in Europe.
If you would like to work for a smaller financial organisation, personalise your application, emphasising why you want to work for it in particular. There is nothing wrong with submitting a speculative application for graduate work, and many smaller firms will welcome such an approach.
Some graduates may prefer to pursue a career path that does not tie them down to one company. For these graduates, a career in a field such as freelance accounts might be one option. Graduates might also want to consider working for a contracting accounting firm, where they could find themselves working on anything from bookkeeping and payroll – learning about business from the ground up – to corporate taxation and business advice.
As Europe emerges from the financial crisis that has kept it back in recent years, graduates can benefit from the opportunities to pursue a financial career that will be opening up to them.