• Role: Summer Intern
  • Location: London
  • University: UCL
  • Organisation: Aon

William Featherby

What attracted you to your role?

Like many of you considering their future plans – I too spent months, years, thinking about the best option. While I was aware (like all of us) of the insurance industry, it certainly wasn’t jumping out as an exciting, challenging career. Why did I keep coming across interesting, motivated, well-humoured people who not only worked in insurance, but loved every day of it?

After studying psychology for three years, I’d figured that the advice of others should always be considered, particularly the advice of those you respect. I was certain from my years of considering career options that these insurance professionals were those I felt the most admiration for. They must know something I don’t.  After a round of applications, a summer internship at Aon presented itself as the best way to test the waters.

How did it tie in with your overall career plans?

The truth is that it formed them.

An internship gives one something that very few people have the luxury of – time. Time to decide whether this is what you really want. We at Aon had ten weeks to explore the business, get to know our colleagues and realise our potential before eventually deciding if this industry would be the one for us. The reality is that most of us only needed a few days.

After my first week I was sure this was where I wanted to be. Insurance, a seemingly dull product to us every-day consumers, takes on a whole new form when expanded in to the realm of international corporates. No longer is it a passive process, a burden on the to-do list – rather an active one, involving participation from both insurers (some of the globe’s largest multinationals) and insureds (industrial powerhouses at the cutting edge of their technologies) working together to manage the most prevalent risks to global business.

Insurance is as fundamental to the global economy as lending or litigation. Rarely can one read a newspaper without seeing the global forces of economic instability, natural catastrophe’s or political unrest that creates the necessity for this industry. It is an incredibly dynamic and stimulating field to work in – something I realised with the time provided by my internship.

What were your main duties?

It was the unique qualities of my day-to-day role that made my internship so exciting.

Aon operates within the ‘London Market’ of insurance – 52,000 professionals working within 400m of our marketplace, Lloyd’s of London. If you are unaware of how Lloyds operates I would strongly encourage you to find out, it is a fascinating market for speciality risks steeped in over 300 years of history and tradition.

My duties as an intern were as an intermediary (or broker) within this marketplace. Clients (large commercial corporations) seek Aon to help place insurance for their exceedingly complex risks – offshore oil rigs, spacecraft, nuclear energy plants – the list is extensive. The duty of a broker is arrange insurance for their clients on this magnificent scale, which involves face-to-face interaction and negotiation within this unique marketplace.

As an intern, your duties are of course limited to those placements that require less authority – but you are given remarkable freedom and responsibility when doing so. In addition, assisting in the placement of the very largest of risks exposes interns to their future career potential.

What were the most important things you learnt from the internship?

Above all else – I learned that those I work with are the most important factor in my enjoyment of and engagement with a financial career. As stated before I relied upon the advice of those I valued when choosing to pursue a career in insurance – the end result certainly did not disappoint. I felt, and still feel two years on, that I am surrounded by the most well-humoured, decent people I’ve had the fortune of working with. Not just within Aon, but the industry as a whole.

While of course insurance won’t be best suited to everyone – there is a lesson here that applies to all people considering a financial career. A key foundation of the financial world is communication and relationship building. If you are considering a career, pay close attention to those people who might be your colleagues. They will give you insight.

Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
Get in touch.

We are blessed in modern times with a plethora of information at our fingertips. Use the information and resources available to you to learn about your chosen industry in first person. Professionals, particularly young professionals, are flattered to be asked for a coffee and a chat about their field.

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