Traineeship in jeans

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Woman changing from heels to sneakers

Now that my probationary period is officially over I have a fair idea of how things work at the bank. Time for me to share my experiences as a trainee at ABN AMRO.

Learning about a culture and handling the differences is one of the most enjoyable challenges in my traineeship Irene Wondergem Irene Wondergem Trainee

What is your story?

What came as the greatest surprise to me is how much freedom I am given to develop. Everyone is happy to talk, whether they work at the bank or elsewhere, and to explain what they do. The more questions I ask them, the more enthusiastic they become. It is not entirely a coincidence that I spend so much of my time talking to people about who they and what they do: my chief focus at the moment is on the bank’s startup proposition. It is my responsibility to draw up a profile of the ideal banker for startups. What is it that startups truly want? How do they go about finding their solutions? Where does the bank offer a match? These are questions that occupy my time, and ultimately I will present a recommendation for the bank on how to optimise its dealings with startups. Although I tend to be quite loud when I am having drinks with my friends, it is always a nervous moment going into these meetings: dealing with new people every time, judging the mood and giving them the right information. Make no mistake, though: I enjoy doing it.

New clothes, a waste of effort

Before I started my job at ABN AMRO, I quickly bought some smart outfits. In hindsight I need not have bothered: most of them are tucked away in my wardrobe with the price tags still on. Jeans and sneakers is my usual attire for work: in co-working spaces this is what feels comfortable. Walking through the door of a co-working space in a skirt suit is like going to the sauna in a Snuggie: people tend to give you funny looks. Even when I do not have any meetings with startups, I wear a casual outfit anyway. My first assignment is for the Innovation Centre, which I usually describe as ‘the bank’s Google environment’. To give you an idea of what the department is like, this space is filled with brightly coloured pouffes and the walls are covered with moss. I often visit other departments where things are sometimes more formal. Early on I worried about whether it was alright for me to pop by in casual clothes. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised: it’s not what you wear, but what you have to say that’s important. I love seeing that authenticity is appreciated.

Tremendously diverse people

Not that this means that I refuse to adapt. Learning about a culture and handling the differences is one of the most enjoyable challenges in my traineeship. My assignment means that I am working together with Marketing, Retail, Sector Advisors, Corporate Banking and Facility Management. This diversity adds an extra dimension to my job. Each of these departments has a completely different environment: people who act differently, but above all people who know different things.

Where do I want to specialise?

Even though I am still in the initial months of my traineeship, I have noticed that I am already trying to decide what direction I want to go. This is not strange, as I am continually exposed to questions about my personal development: who are you, what do you want and how do you plan to achieve this? One thing that I have learned from this, if nothing else, is that I will get where I want to be if I take things one step at a time.


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