I was walking down the streets of Karlsruhe in November 2020, when I noticed a post my local bank published while scrolling the front page of Facebook. I had stressed about my practical training for a while now. Coronavirus was spreading like a wildfire in Germany and I had already decided I would move back to Finland during December, so I went and checked out my bank’s homepage in case they had anything to offer for me.
That is when I encountered something that caught my interest. My bank, POP Pankki Pohjanmaa, had an internship program specifically designed for university students interested in finance. The program is called POP Akatemia, and it is designed to introduce the student to the world of banking by not only focusing on cash services, but also on the specialist services such as investing, loans, and marketing. I was immediately excited as I could combine finance and marketing, the two fields I am the most interested in.
In December I received a call from the service manager of the banks of Kortesjärvi and Alahärmä, asking if I would be interested in having an interview for the internship. Soon after, I landed the job and we agreed I would start on the 4th of January. I flew back to Finland before Christmas, already looking forward to starting my internship.
During the five-month internship, I worked at the cash desk, attended a loan negotiation, got to know our legal side, and much more. I was even asked to act in one of the bank’s infomercials, which was something I could not imagine ever doing in an internship at a bank. The overall experience was truly rewarding, as I was able to learn such a great variety of things. My coworkers were amazing, and everyone accepted me into the group so quickly it felt like I had already worked there before. POP Pankki had their learning platform called “Popintie”, which helped me to gain the theoretical knowledge I needed. Combining the theory with practice, I was able to get the most out of the whole experience.
In one of our weekly meetings, our marketing manager was asking if anyone in our bank would be interested in the social media marketing of our bank. I was hesitant at first. Could I be doing the marketing as I am just an intern? I talked with my supervisor and she encouraged me to do it. Soon after, I had a Teams meeting with the marketing manager, where we discussed some of my ideas for social media. He was very supportive and so I started posting to our socials as well.
I would definitely recommend POP Akatemia to anyone interested in finance, as it offers you the opportunity to explore the banking sector as a whole, not only just focusing on a certain area. By being proactive, you can really impact what your internship consists of, and the training you receive will benefit you in the future. Curiousness, a positive attitude, active participation, and willingness to learn are one of the most important qualities you need in your internship. Those are some of the qualities that got me a permanent job in the company, and I am now completing the APV-1 certificate to work in the role of an investment advisor.
Author: Susanna Sulkakoski