There was a huge celebration of student and intern success upstairs at George Town Yacht Club, because it was the second year running that Year 12 students had completed their internships with local finance companies and government departments. Excitedly, the smartly-dressed young people filed into the big hall to meet with one another and carry on the valuable networking that had been an intrinsic part of many of their experiences. This year the number of students has risen to 75, from 50 in the programme’s pilot year.
This time around, the extra students were also drawn from Cayman’s private schools, rather than just from the public schools as they were in the first year, so no Caymanian student is left out of being able to benefit from the opportunity of real-life, hands on experience in Cayman’s largest industry.
The programme aims to educate the participants on the local financial services industry, built relationships with key stakeholders and provided important pathways to future career opportunities. The programme consisted of three main components: facilitated workshops, mentorships and work experiences. Cayman Finance member firm representatives were trained to conduct in-classroom workshops on a variety of topics including a financial services overview, industry sectors and career skills. Coinciding with the workshops, each student was paired with a mentor, whom they met with weekly to learn about the industry as well important soft skills in the workplace. Mentors in the programme consisted of senior management and partners from various Cayman Finance member organisations.
Everyone at the event was shown a video, with key players being interviewed: “The goal of the programme was to provide pathways for talented young Caymanians to give them access into the Financial Services Industry, to get a good understanding of the industry; to make connections and also to develop some experience and feedback from mentors who have gone on the path before” said Jude Scott, CEO Cayman Finance.
But it was clear from the video that the students were learning how to express themselves confidently too, an important skill for all young professionals. Participant Yanique Arthurs said, “During the internship I developed organizational skills, researching skills and communications skills,” and, Amy McLean explained: “I registered for this program because I thought I would gain a lot of experience, not only to gain experience but to find out what I actually wanted to do with my life and my career.” Ashonda Muir said, “I have learned that even as a student in the work world we can make a big contribution in making sure that we build a better working world.” Participant Matthew Fields said, “You really can’t find anything better. That experience – you can’t get it anywhere else.”
John Tomlinson was very pleased with the experience afforded by completing the internship:
“I went to Ernst & Young and I had a wonderful time interning there. I took part in the workshops that are part of this programme, and I really learned about the business community and what goes on within it.”
Addressing all the students, facilitators and mentors who had made the dream happen, Hon Tara Rivers Minister of Education explained one of the benefits of the programme by relating a story: “One of the workshop facilitators said she was so impressed with the students’ engagement,” she said. When that facilitator stopped speaking, she was anticipating there would only be a few questions, “But fifty hands flew up,” Ms Rivers said. “I think that is an amusing testament as to what students gain when they become part of this programme: They gain confidence, and they gain the ability to interact.”