HSBC's interns received an incomprehensible object in the post

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HSBC's interns received an incomprehensible object in the post

What is it?

The Target Jobs UK 300 rankings reveal Google as the graduate employer of choice amongst the 70,000 undergraduates and graduates surveyed, followed closely by Cancer Research UK and the BBC. Banking and investment banking organizations remain as popular as ever with J.P Morgan (8th), Goldman Sachs (11th), Barclays (29th) and HSBC (37th) all ranked in the top 40 in Britain.

It’s no secret that competition for internships in banking/IB, with a potential graduate job offer for star performers, is fierce. The possibility of completing these remotely due to Covid-19 has not dampened interest, with opportunities still frequently receiving over a hundred applications per place. Some outstanding candidates manage to secure multiple offers, facing the enviable task of choosing with which employer they will spend their often long summer days (and frequently nights).

Once the decision has been made, employers are keen to retain the incoming intern’s interest, and avoid the worst case scenario of candidates reneging for an alternative, sometimes later offer.

Employers often arrange pre-internship activities to retain interest and optimize onboarding. Unsurprisingly traditional networking events and office visits have recently been replaced by Zoom calls with future colleagues and line managers.

Some employers even keep incoming interns sweet by sending a gift box. HSBC recently did this for their incoming Summer 2021 cohort. The contents were useful but pretty standard and included an HSBC branded place mat and flask (important to stay hydrated), notebook and pen (in case they ever have to note something the old-fashioned way), a charger/adapter (no excuses to not be able to respond to those early morning emails), and - most importantly - a mysterious object which has caused some puzzlement and intrigue.

It looks like a flat moulded piece of plastic attached to a key ring.  What could it possibly be?

An electronic pass which grants access to 8 Canada Square, Canary Wharf?

Part of a bigger puzzle, to be used in a welcome team building exercise?

A magnetic bottle opener from the future?

No doubt the creative thinking and curiosity this item has stimulated will be welcome qualities at HSBC this summer. If you have any ideas post a comment below.

Ralph Barnes is the pseudonym of a careers professional in a British university.


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