TOBY KINREAD (left RGS in 2013)
When I left RGS I was not 100 per cent sure what I wanted to study. I was keen on art and initially thought about pursuing a degree in art history. After a gap year, I decided on the University of St Andrews. Fortunately, the Scottish system allows you to choose three subjects in your first year and then pick one to ‘major’ in for your overall degree. As a result, I studied art history, French and international relations (IR) to start. Of the three, I particularly enjoyed IR and so I chose this as my degree subject and received a first class honours and was on the Dean’s List of awards for academic excellence. This political degree coincided with phenomena such as Brexit and President Trump, so it was a topical subject and quite different from wanting to study art history! For people unsure of the subject they want to specialise in, the Scottish system works well.
Whilst doing my degree, I had focused on some more economic areas of IR such as trade and financial sanctions. This led me to explore the various financial internship schemes. I would absolutely recommend looking into internships and I was pleased to be accepted onto the Swedish Bank Handelsbanken’s UK scheme, which I completed in my penultimate year at university. Getting this ‘foot in the door’ enabled me to go back to the bank the Christmas holiday before my final term and I was then offered a job. I have now been at the bank for a year-and-a-half and I am learning a lot and gaining some great experience. The bank is supporting my chartered banker qualification and I am doing lots of training in-between seeing clients and learning the ropes behind the scenes. RGS prepared me well for the world of work and I am always happy to talk to current students interested in similar paths.
As a key worker in banking I have been fortunate to carry on working throughout the pandemic, and going into the office in Harrogate each day has been good even though only a few staff are in.