Some time ago, I took part in the J.P Morgan Code Commit – Advancing Black Leaders networking event. As a Computing Science undergraduate, this seemed like it had the potential to be an important event and a great opportunity for me to go into another environment to further my career and knowledge of my field – swapping the lecture hall for a conference room. It had been years since I had been to a banking institute. The last time I was in this type of environment I was attending an insight day having just completed my last GCSE exam, and now, I am a third and final year completing my degree in Computing Science.

The day started off with some impromptu icebreaker session, whilst we were waiting for the event to start, as each of the candidates arrived, we got to talking to one another. Introducing ourselves to each other and often asking questions regarding our degree disciplines, aspirations and interests, this was a good way to get to know ourselves a little bit more. We had all come from similar backgrounds and were all at this event for the same thing but had taken different routes to get here. Some of us had taken an interest in software early on and had studied it before university in the form of GCSEs or A-Levels, others had taken an interest in it post-18, with their first exposure to coding coming at university studying some sort of Computing-based degree. Others had picked it up at as a hobby alongside their degree and for the rest, this event was their first encounter with coding. Regardless of where everyone had started, we were all attending this event to find out the extent to which coding and software engineering had become an integral part of the financial industry and where better to discover this, than at one of the world’s leading financial institutions.

Next, once everyone had arrived and everything had been prepared, we were ushered into a conference room where. It started with a speech from Tia Counts – EMEA Head of Advancing Black Leaders – she is the woman who organised the event. Later, we were introduced to some of the mentors for the day, some of which who specialise in software engineering at J.P Morgan and others worked in HR. In these opening introductions, we were given a better insight into how the event came about and what its purpose was. It was great to see people taking time out of their day and dedicate it to us aspiring students.

Following the introductions were the coding challenges, it consisted of 5 different challenges over the course of approximately 90 minutes with some challenges requiring more time than others depending on the difficulty. This was a great experience for the simple fact that every student in the room came from a ‘problem-solving’ discipline, this means that for each of the problems being solved, there are multiple approaches that can be taken to achieve the same result – multiple routes and thought processes to get to the same destination. This allowed for interesting discussions and various points of view to be expressed, making it not only an enjoyable experience but also an educational one. In participating in these challenges, we were given a taste as to how coding plays a part in the financial technology industry and the kinds of problems we would be expected to solve working as a software engineer for J.P Morgan.

After the coding challenges, we were given a talk on the application process applying for a J.P Morgan insight day, spring week, summer internship or graduate scheme. It is as follows: Application, pymetrics (12 games testing your cognitive strengths), CodeVue interview – a coding interview (including video recorded explanations), assessment centre, then finally, an offer.

At the end of the day, we were given the chance to network with each other and some of the J.P Morgan mentors. This was a good opportunity for us to pick their brains and not only get an insight into the culture of J.P Morgan but also find out more about them personally, and the path taken to get to where they are now. As the conversations furthered – both with fellow students and with the J.P Morgan mentors, you begin to realise the striking similarities between your upbringings and cultures. This is inspiring as you can almost look at who you could become in the near future with some focus, curiosity and determination.

All in all, this was an amazing experience. One that proved to be a true eyeopener, coming face to face with likeminded individuals, all trying to better themselves and further their professional careers. Furthermore, being able to talk to and network with people who are a few years ahead of you in your desired field, provided me with much needed-motivation to push forward and put in the necessary effort needed to complete my degree and attain a position at an institute like J.P Morgan.