J.P. Morgan may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of a career in the tech industry, but the global financial services firm has a wide range of programmes and internships for students and graduates who want to break into the world of tech – regardless of their degree background.
We spoke to three graduate Software Engineers who entered the business through a variety of routes to learn more about what it’s like being a woman in tech, and what it takes to succeed at a large international company.
Jane studied at the University of Southampton and joined J.P. Morgan in September 2018 through the summer internship programme. She is based in the Bournemouth office.
Sean from GradTouch: So you’re based in Bournemouth! What made you choose that location?
Jane at J.P. Morgan: It’s really peaceful and it’s a nice area. I was at university in Southampton so it wasn’t too much [of a move]. It’s not as busy as London, that’s really what I wanted.
Jane says that transitioning from the internship into the graduate programme meant that she was already familiar with the location and wasn’t nervous about having to get to know different people.
Sean: You’ve come from a technical degree background, are there people who haven’t done that? What support did they receive?
Jane: Yes, definitely, I have friends who didn’t. I know somebody who has a degree in physics and someone with a degree in history! J.P. Morgan has a scheme called Tech Connect; you take on 6-weeks of training during which they teach you about tech - Java, Python, everything you would need. You don’t have to have a tech background.
S: Have you always wanted to work in the tech industry?
J: Yes I have. Growing up I knew I wanted to work in tech but I didn’t know exactly what industry, whether it was electronic engineering or software engineering. But I ended up in software and I really enjoy it.
S: If you always knew you wanted to work in tech, what made you choose J.P. Morgan?
J: I guess for me, I have always liked the business side as well as the tech side, that’s just my personality. I thought a lot about which companies embody that and J.P. Morgan did that for me. We are powered by tech and it’s quite interesting to know how tech has a real impact here.
Jane says she’s found the culture at J.P. Morgan, particularly within her team, to be very collaborative and supportive. People are always willing to help, and the team socialises outside of work too.
S: How have you found the role so far? What kind of technologies do you work with?
J: I work with React, Java and Spring Boot. We do a lot of testing as well. I’ve had to understand different languages and work with different offices which has been challenging. But I have found it really rewarding because of the problem solving that’s involved.
S: You’re based in Bournemouth, but J.P. Morgan is a global business – does it feel like you work for an international company?
J: It does because you work with people all over the world. In my internship I worked with people in Houston every day. It depends on your team, but we do have a global mindset… an awareness that you’re not alone.
S: That sounds great, how is it working with people in Houston so regularly?
J: It’s nice to see where they work and how their environments are different.
S: The tech industry is often cited as being male-dominated and difficult for women to access or progress within. What has your experience been?
J: My experience has been positive. Maybe that’s because of the environment I work in, everyone is pretty nice and fair and there’s no discrimination going on here. There are women in my team which is nice and I haven’t felt like an ‘other’ person [laughs].
Jane mentions that her immediate manager is a woman who actually went to the same university as her; she says having similar experiences with her line manager and being able to talk to one another on a personal level is really valuable.
S: What competencies do you think someone needs to be successful at J.P. Morgan?
J: The thing that is really important is to have a willingness to learn – you have to be open to learning and change. I’d say flexibility and good communication skills are also important, and being happy to help other people.
S: What advice would you give to other women looking to apply?
J: Don’t be afraid to challenge the norms, and I would say keep up to date with what’s going on in the news - especially in tech.
Becca and Shal are both based in J.P. Morgan’s Glasgow Office and are both on the Software Engineering Programme. Becca went to the University of Glasgow and studied Computer Science with Information Security, whereas Shal studied Computer Science with Business Management at the University of Manchester.
S: What was your route into J.P. Morgan?
Becca: I did an internship in my penultimate year. I was here for 10 weeks and it was really good. At the end of that I was offered a full-time role when I graduated, [which] meant that in the last year of uni, I didn’t need to worry about finding a job or anything!
Shal: I came through the tech connect programme, which meant I had 6 weeks of extra technical training ahead of joining the grad programme.
Shal says that she was assigned a mentor in this time who was there to help take care of everything and ensure she was on the right track. Shal did the Tech Connect programme 2 years ago and says this senior figure in the business is still supportive and in contact with her.
S: And what support is there for people coming from a non-Computer Science background?
B: There’s quite a lot. They build you up and give you a lot of time for personal development too. Questions are encouraged, not discouraged.
SH: We have someone in our team who studied chemistry. She was given extra Java training Our manager would even stay behind to help her with projects.
My own experience was challenging because it was my first real job. I didn’t have a technical job before, I was fresh out of uni and my team were really understanding about it.
Every few months someone from the Campus Recruitment team would reach out to me to make sure if I was getting on fine with my team and whether everything was okay. I always had someone outside the team to talk to as well.
Shal explains that because J.P. Morgan was so accommodating and supportive for her, she tries to pass that on and show as much support as possible to new starters now. “It’s all about team culture,” she says, “making sure we help grads and new starters.”
S: Have you always wanted to work in the tech industry?
B: Yeah I’ve always wanted to do computer science, but when I got further into uni that’s when I knew I wanted to work in information security. J.P. Morgan sponsored a course at my university so I got to meet their people. - It was one of the most enjoyable courses as well, so that sold it for me!
SH: When I finished my degree I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. A lot of my friends did placements – one of them was at J.P. Morgan and was so excited about it so he encouraged me to do it.
S: What tech do you work on in Glasgow?
B: Right now we’re working with Java script.
SH: We do mostly Java programming but we do some SQL database as well. We use cloud technologies for computing too.
S: What made you want to choose Glasgow? Do you enjoy it?
SH: My friend who did a placement year here loved it and said I should definitely apply here. He said everyone’s really helpful and that’s why I applied - I love it. There’s no hierarchy, I am able to go up to anyone in the office and ask for help they never say no, no one says they’re too busy.
B: I went to uni here - I’m from up north in Scotland. Believe it or not the people do make Glasgow; it’s really nice and welcoming. Everything is right on your doorstep as well.
S: Does it feel like you work for a global company?
B: It does as there’s a lot of members of the team that are working in America. There’s a lot of communication that happens internationally but you don’t really think about it until you’re messaging someone when it’s 6am for them and they’re not replying [laughs].
SH: We have teams in New York and Bengaluru so we work a lot with the New York teams in the PM and the Bangalore teams in the AM. It’s a very diverse office too, there’s people from different backgrounds so it doesn’t feel like you’re working only with a certain group of people.
In the Glasgow office we have different cultural groups and every few months we have events celebrating things like Chinese New Year, Diwali, etc.
S: The Tech industry is often cited as being male dominated, what has your experience of this been, particularly at J.P. Morgan?
B: It can be tough sometimes but at the same time you’re not going to able to build a bridge if you only stay on one side.
At J.P. Morgan we have many employee networks that help people feel more included in work. During my internship I attended a Women In Tech event so more women could meet each other in a more social environment before working together.
SH: There could always be more women in our industry. For the past two years our Software Engineer Program has brought more female employees in, so it’s growing but we can always do more.
S: And what about progression, has that been outlined to you?
SH: I was on a two-year programme as an analyst. I am now a Junior Associate. My manager is great at encouraging me to progress, so he suggested next year I can go for a promotion to Senior Associate and he’ll give me extra responsibilities.
S: What do you think you need to be able to succeed at J.P. Morgan?
B: Be a good communicator and have the confidence to speak up when you don’t know something. Be able to ask for help because if you can’t do that, you can’t learn.
SH: Have the willingness to learn and don’t be shy about asking questions.
S: And finally, would you recommend J.P. Morgan to people wanting to get into the tech industry?
B: Definitely, I think they provide all the right opportunities and the right environment for new people starting out. Especially in the sense that they facilitate and encourage moving around and working in difference offices for a year.
SH: Yes… and I already have!