Today's young professionals are spoiled for choice. They have an almost unlimited number of possible professions in many exciting industries at their disposal. To make the right decision, it helps to have a clear picture of what you actually want to achieve in life and in your career. Nothing happens on its own - but if you know what you want and take advantage of the numerous opportunities, you can look forward to an exciting career.
This was the experience of 35-year-old Fabian from ING Germany. His story shows: Young professionals don't have to be afraid of committing themselves to the same job for the rest of their lives when choosing an employer.
You've had quite a stellar career. You started your studies just 15 years ago, and now you're Director Corporate Sector Lending in ING's corporate customer business. How did it all start? Was it always your dream to work in a bank?
No, at least as a child I dreamed of becoming a teacher. But as is usually the case with childhood career aspirations, at some point becoming a teacher was no longer that exciting for me. I wanted to pursue a career in a business-related field but still without any concrete idea. In the end, I started studying accounting, controlling and financial services in Würzburg in 2006. I always wanted to learn something, and that's why I worked as a student trainee every semester. I was able to complete two six-month internships at Bosch and the German stock exchange. This meant that I didn't just learn about theory and practice during my studies, but also about the industrial and financial side.
Why did you decide to study and how did you come to ING?
I once had a summer job as a production assistant during the summer vacations, after which I was certain that I definitely wanted to study and get a degree. ING convinced me with their International Trainee Program. Prior to my application, I wasn't aware of ING’s strategy in Germany in particular. But the more stages I went through in the application process, the more interested and motivated I became.
With what measures and programs has the bank supported you in your career?
As a trainee, I received a kind of all-round carefree package. I was able to work in Germany and abroad, attend a wide range of seminars to improve my technical skills, and also develop my soft skills. All of this has been very useful to me professionally, but also in the development of my personality. I have found ING to be an employer that encourages and supports flexible, autonomous work. The most recent example of this is the agreement with the General Works Council, according to which mobile working will be possible for all employees in the future - within the framework of operational, legal and regulatory requirements, of course. In general, ING is very responsive to individual needs. In certain departments, for example, there is the option of choosing personal working time models. But that's not all: ING is the first agile bank in Germany. The teams work on an interdisciplinary basis and have significantly more personal responsibility and therefore more scope for creativity. What I mean by this is that you should look for employers who offer you lots of opportunities for personal development and then make good use of those opportunities.
Was there someone at the bank who supported you along the way? If so, what did this person do for you?
There wasn't just one particular person. So far, I've always had supervisors with high expectations, but who also valued my commitment and dedication. What has also always been particularly motivating for me is that I have been shown a great deal of trust. This has been an invaluable advantage for my development because it has enabled me to gain new experience at an early stage. I would like to give an example of this: As an analyst in the "Telecom, Media & Technology" sector - TMT for short, at the beginning there was only my direct manager in the department above me. I was therefore able to, or rather had to, directly take on tasks that experienced colleagues would do in an established team. The same applies to my time as a junior after the trainee program. Here, too, I was able - after an internal transfer to the Lending division - to take on more responsibility quite quickly, gain experience and, thus, develop myself further to become Vice President.
What is your greatest challenge in your current position?
My daily challenge, but also the most fun, is working with the juniors on a daily basis to develop the young professionals and accompany them on their individual paths. It's the diversity that makes it exciting here. And in this way, I can give back what has helped me so much on my own path.
Do you have any tips or advice for young students who still have their careers ahead of them?
Essentially, a career is what you make of it. Success does not come automatically. Even the best resume is no guarantee of success if you are not authentic and have nothing to talk about. It is very important to pursue activities at work that you enjoy and for which you have a passion. Then at least the chances of being successful will increase significantly. I would also like to emphasize another aspect: A good supervisor is also helpful for your development. Even more important, are the people you work with every day. Ideally, they provide you with valuable knowledge and have therefore had a strong influence on me. Therefore, I can only recommend that you find out exactly what the team is like in advance and get in touch with your future colleagues at an early stage - regardless of whether it's for an internship or a permanent position.