A summer in the life of Praxis bursary students
Each year Praxis invests in one Guernsey-resident prospective university student through the annual Praxis Bursary Award.
The scheme gives the individual a chance to explore the financial services industry and the range of roles available while at the same time completing their degree and developing their individual interests and desired career direction further.
Group Head of Human Resources Sharon Coburn is passionate about the bursary and the opportunity it provides to get real world experience of the finance industry. 'Two thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience but for many getting that experience and a 'foot in the door' can be one of the hardest challenges.'
'We want to be a facilitator for young people to get valuable experience and insight into the industry that forms the backbone of the island's economy' added Sharon.
Two of Praxis' bursary students who are already benefitting from the scheme are 2018 bursary recipient Isabel Ives and 2019 recipient Sophie De Garis.
With initial uncertainty about whether the Praxis offices would be open the company offered Isabel the opportunity to spend her paid work experience time working for a charity in place of office work.
Isabel volunteered with Wigwam a support group offering friendship support and advice to the families of children and young people with additional needs. Isabel dedicated her Mondays and two afternoons a week for six weeks to the charity helping to care and play with a young boy with additional needs and assisting with group excursions to the beach.
As social distancing restrictions eased Isabel was able to spend the other side of her week with Praxis' Private Client & Corporate department. Isabel undertook administrative tasks and projects with the team involving updating documents and drafting minutes. Isabel was also trained to do payments and source of funds checks using the Acumen system.
Reflecting on her time spent with the department Isabel described the experience she gained as invaluable 'My experience has built upon my team-work skills verbal and written communication and attention to detail all of which will all be transferable to any future career.'
Isabel also found her time with Wigwam helped her to develop important life skills highlighting the importance of adaptability. 'I would go from spending time with children as young as three to supporting 20-year-olds. My organisational and time management skills have also been strengthened by splitting my time between the office and the varied charity work.'
'I loved the flexibility that Praxis offered me this year in response to pandemic. I was able to gain valuable office experience while also giving my time to Wigwam making my summer a very rewarding one' added Isabel.
Isabel is going to continue volunteering her time to Wigwam supporting them remotely from university with its social media and marketing.
Sophie's six weeks with Praxis were spent between the Pensions department, Central Services, the Marketing & Business Development team and Human Resources.
Sophie was involved in multiple administration projects posting and scanning documents preparing meeting rooms and updating client databases. A common theme was getting to know each team and their roles really well.
'Delivering post around the office of 200 people meant I was also able to get to know others from the departments that I didn't work directly with.'
Sophie identified several skills which she developed throughout the summer that will be transferrable to her university life and any future working environments.
'At times the work I was doing was time pressured and as a result I enhanced my efficiency to complete tasks learnt to prioritise and build on organisation and time management skills. The weeks have flown by but the experience was an eye opening one. Throughout the summer I was encouraged out of my comfort zone and have found my confidence has been boosted in return. I have enjoyed every part of it and can't wait to come back once I am home in the holidays.'
'I was encouraged out of my comfort zone and have found my confidence has been boosted in return.'
Meet our 2020 bursary recipient
The scheme is now entering its fourth year and soon to follow in Isabel and Sophie's footsteps is the 2020 recipient Zachary Ellis. Zach is an Elizabeth College A-level student who has recently completed his studies and heading off to Oxford University to complete a MEng in Engineering Science.
Gaining A* in his four A-level subjects which includes Maths, Further Maths, French and Physics, Zach has an aptitude for science and an interest in its practical application. Drawing similarities between engineering and finance Zach explains how his interest in the Finance industry was sparked.
'I think that a lot of parallels can be drawn between engineering and the finance sector. Mathematical and analytical skills underpin both and they are comprised of tailored complicated structures that serve specific purposes. I am keen to learn more about the finance sector and how it operates.'
Zach is most looking forward to meeting and spending time with professionals across the broad range of financial services which are offered by Praxis and having the opportunity to contribute towards some projects and business operations while deepening his understanding. Zach is also using the experience to explore future career opportunities.
Sharon said 'we are very excited to welcome Zach to the scheme and play our part in helping him explore finance and gaining a deeper understanding of how the industry works and what goes on behind the scenes. We wish Zach Sophie and Isabel all the best in their studies this year and look forward to their return.'