The students were smart, on time and asked thought-provoking questions

I wanted to share my experience to encourage students from a variety of backgrounds to aim high and realise their potential.

Who are you?

My name is Mike O’Connor and I’m the Global Head of Access Strategies at Citi. I have been involved in presenting masterclasses at schools and to this year’s Citi interns.

Why did you decide to get involved?

I heard about Career Ready through Nancy Flint who works on my team. She had always looked to host interns through the various Citi programmes.

I love the idea of giving students a chance to see what a career in finance looks like, especially if those students are from backgrounds where there hasn’t historically been an obvious pathway. I knew I had a fairly interesting story because of the background I came from, and I wanted to share my experience to encourage students from a variety of backgrounds to aim high and realise their potential.

What did you enjoy about delivering a masterclass?

It gives you the opportunity to share something you are passionate about to an audience who are eager to learn. 

Preparing for a masterclass reminds you of your own journey to where you are today, and you realise that you really want to share that journey to help others.

What impact do you feel you had?

Helping the group to realise that everything starts with self-awareness, getting their attitude right and then committing the time, effort and hard work to their studies and internships, which is half the battle won in any career.

What did you find rewarding?

Knowing that the students could relate to the story I had, identified with the challenges I had faced and, importantly, were willing to commit to the effort to overcome challenges. It made the whole experience a very personal one for me.

A group of the interns at Citi sought me out after the presentation I gave to ask questions. We ended up holding a two hour Q&A follow-up session. The were smart, on time and asked interesting, thought-provoking questions. This had a big impact on me – they were giving up their time to try and learn more and that made me realise the power of the Career Ready experience. It is a progressive and empowering one. They couldn’t have impressed me more.