L&D Pros Share Best Practices for Early Career Training

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek January 10, 2022

​The pandemic disrupted businesses' typical delivery of learning and development (L&D) programs to college graduates and young professionals. But one upside of the changes employers implemented: Virtual training is more cost-effective and allows the organization to be more inclusive of a global audience, said Hannah Tupper, L&D specialist at Schroders, an investment management company based in London.

She is responsible for the ongoing development and delivery of the company's early career programs, including summer internships, traineeships and government-funded apprenticeships.

"At this point, virtual training for global [participants] is our preferred operations, particularly with overseas graduates not being able to fly over," Tupper noted. "It enables us to be more inclusive," with students worldwide able to participate. "It allows us to be more versatile … [and] more cost-effective," she said.

There are limitations to the virtual approach, she acknowledged.

"We know it reduces the opportunity to 'learn through osmosis'—and getting people to put their cameras on is an uphill battle," she said. Additionally, students constantly ask for more social activities.

"We've had to increase the budget so they can put these things in place," such as creating digital platforms that host communities to foster a constant flow of communication. Although virtual training is the preferred delivery method, "we just continue to make use of opportunities where groups can meet in person," she said.

"There is the option of doing [training and development] in person if you have the numbers and critical mass to do that" in a particular location, Tupper added. "Ultimately, we have to be able to pivot and adapt at a moment's notice. Everything has to have a plan A and a plan B."

Tupper was among panelists sharing training insights and best practices during a recent virtual roundtable hosted by London-based Fitch Learning. Other panelists included:

  • Sandra Hart, director of talent acquisition programming at Boston-based Fidelity Investments. She is responsible for managing several of the company's early talent programs while partnering with the business, HR and talent acquisition divisions. 
  • Lucy Kelly, graduate recruitment and program associate at London-based Rothschild & Co., where her main focus is the graduate training program.
  • Kris Lynch, group emerging talent lead at New York City-based HSBC, where he oversees the global delivery of all graduate and intern program streams for the Wealth and Personal Banking business area.

Among the advice they shared:

Offer continuing professional development. "One of the biggest challenges," Hart said, "is showing students what we offer that will continue to develop their strengths and allow them to give back to the community. Now we have to help students with what their 'squiggly' journey will be like." 

A "squiggly career," a phrase coined by bestselling authors Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, focuses on curating one's own career path rather than climbing the traditional ladder for advancement. People may make lateral or even backward moves to gain needed or wanted experiences, instead of following a linear, always rising pathway.

"We're highlighting how you can continue to make a difference, not only in your life but those you interact with, by continually offering development opportunities, different mentorship opportunities—and reverse mentoring also has been a huge piece of what we're doing," Hart explained.

Break large groups into hubs. HSBC is exploring a hybrid approach to early career training that would gather students in regional hubs—or at least by country, Lynch said. "We operate in five regions and 15 to 16 markets, and it just doesn't seem practical to bring everyone in one place [in 2022]," he explained.

Be welcoming. "We need to make more out of the 'welcome,' " Rothschild & Co.'s Kelly said. In addition to the Christmas gifts the company sent, "we make sure they're welcome in their own home across the globe."

Create virtual group activities. Schroders sends its interns and other trainees a box containing ingredients for an interactive virtual activity with a group, such as making holiday cookies, according to Tupper. Participants are urged to keep their cameras on during the activity, which can lead to humorous results and create a bonding experience.

Make time for networking. "They're missing the networking opportunities, especially in offices where we have smaller cohorts," Kelly said of students and young professionals. "Make sure they're networking and hopefully build something in person" for the future. 

Tap into the volunteer spirit. "We're noticing learners are seeking more opportunities to volunteer, to give back more to society and be part of [employee resource groups]," Tupper said. "All of these experiences are feeding into career development and … corporate social responsibility." 

Show they are valued. "[We're] exploring personal elements to make the individual feel [cared for], not just collectively as a group," Lynch said. Smaller sessions, she added, are more powerful in sending this message, because not everyone has a chance to speak during massive video meetings. 



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