Rhys grew up in a small Welsh town called Tredegar and loved sport. He always thought he would pursue a long term career in the sports industry but after his GCSE’s decided to study Electrical Engineering at college.
“I knew fairly quickly that it wasn’t the right path for me so I made the decision to go back to the academic route and this is where I found my first passion outside of sport & something I could make a career of. This was the subject of Law. I went on to study Law at USW in both an Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees.”
Following his post-graduate degree, Rhys knew he wanted to do something other than go down the route of becoming a trainee solicitor and whilst searching for opportunities, he discovered Graduate Programme Wales.
“I was first made aware of the Programme whilst at university however, I initially believed that it was only for those with degrees in Finance, Accounting or Mathematics etc. Soon after this a close friend, who is a programme alumni encouraged me to apply after explaining it was accessible to people with backgrounds in various subjects.
The programme stood out to me because I had seen how it had benefited my friend’s career. The fact it offered three placements at different organisations and the MSc was an opportunity I could not pass up on. The amount of experience it enables people to gain in just 24 months is incredible and was something that made me very eager to gain a place on the programme.”
Like many other people, Rhys was initially unaware of the range of careers that the financial services had to offer.
“During my time on the programme I’ve seen so much variation in the types of job placements available and the different skills they require. I am keen to explore as many areas as possible across the 3 placements to solidify what direction I want to specialise my career to in the future.”
Rhys started his experience on the Programme with Principality Building Society as a Finance Intern.
“My experience with Principality Building Society was my first professional role and I couldn’t have asked for a better start. The amount of support I received from both my host employer and the WCCF team was amazing. Any query I had was always answered above and beyond what I needed and it put me on a great path for the rest of the programme”
He is now on his second rotation and is on placement in the HR team at Atradius.
“This placement is totally different from my first placement; no two days are the same. I’m involved with a variety of things ranging from large ongoing projects to daily tasks such as sending out contracts and logging information on the HR system.
One part I am really enjoying is delivering inductions. Working closely with my colleague, we help to onboard new people into the business. We’re usually the first people they meet on their first day and it is my responsibility to make them feel welcome and answer any questions they have.
I couldn’t have asked for more support from my line manager and colleagues. They have been great in helping me to settle in and this has allowed me to start working on individual and group tasks within my first month at Atradius.”
Just one year on I’m already so much more confident in my professional skills and that is down to the opportunities given to me by the programme and my first two placement organisations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the programme so far and it has been an invaluable experience that I would not be able to obtain elsewhere.
Something that has stood out is the sheer number of alumni you meet at placements who have gone from strength to strength and have now risen to senior positions in their organisations. For example, at my current organisation there are several alumni who are in senior positions at still quite a young age. I am hoping to go on to replicate this and take advantage of the wealth of experience and skills the programme provides and hopefully be in their position in a few years’ time.”
One of the most challenging aspects of the programme is managing both work and studying simultaneously. Rhys has now settled into a good routine which balances both elements.
“When it comes to assessments my advice would be to start planning as soon as you can after the lectures. Having a routine in place and starting early will give you the best opportunity to achieve good results in both work and studies.
You must also remember to give yourself a break too, it can get overwhelming so having that break is vital to keep striving on.”
Rhys is halfway through his second placement and with one eye on the future tells us:
“In the long term I want to be able to combine my skills from my previous studies of Law and the skills I have gained in the financial sector to forge a career. The placements and my studies will allow me to combine the two disciplines.
I strongly believe that without the opportunities given to me by the programme I would not be able to realise this goal until I am much older. The programme has given me the keys to these doors now and it is up to me to realise my aspirations.
My advice to anyone thinking about applying for the next programme would be to just do it! I am so glad I did, and it has given me so many opportunities, some of which I wasn’t even aware of until I joined. The combination of the three placements and the funded MSc is an opportunity that is second to none.
I would also encourage those from all different background to apply. The programme is for everyone and if you have an interest in financial services, I couldn’t recommend it enough.”
Thank you Rhys and good luck with the rest of your journey!