My internship with Berry & Oak

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As an MA Business and Marketing undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, I was keen to gain some real-life experience of the working world, and to put into practise the theory I have learnt during my first three years at university. Having focused on predominantly marketing courses, I found myself drawn to the theory of service marketing particularly, as the intangible nature of the subject made it more interesting than straight product marketing. The opportunity to work for Berry & Oak therefore, during the summer of my penultimate year at Edinburgh, was very exciting given they are a financial-services organisation, who regularly face the trouble of how to communicate the value of their service to their ever-growing client base.

As a marketing student, throughout the 6 weeks I mainly worked alongside Sarah to assist her in developing Berry & Oak’s marketing communications and online digital media strategy. This was a great opportunity for me given next year I will be taking both service management and digital marketing courses, meaning my experiences from the summer will really help to set me ahead of my peers going into my final year.

When Andrew and Sarah asked me to come in to the offices for an interview ahead of the internship, they asked me to create a presentation on the areas where I feel Berry & Oak could improve their online communications in order to attract both new clients, and fresh and highly skilled talent, such as university graduates. I managed to identify a few areas that I thought we could work on, and it’s been great to see just how much Andrew and Sarah listened to my ideas and worked with me to help make the changes happen.

A key focus of my work with Berry & Oak has been helping them look at ways to attracting graduates and fresh young talent. I think that it is important for graduates in this industry, given that paraplanning and financial advisor roles require several extra qualifications post-graduation to have a clear plan of when they are expected to achieve these, and how their career will progress is therefore important. To overcome this struggle, I have been helping Sarah & Andrew to develop and promote a 5-year graduate training programme that outlines exactly what can be expected at what stage of their career for potential graduates. As part of this project we have planned, organised, and filmed two new videos, which will be posted throughout the year alongside the above recruitment strategies for attracting graduates! I hope that in the long term these changes will help Berry & Oak to retain top talent and continue to grow so efficiently.

Client satisfaction is at the heart of Berry & Oak’s strategy, so gaining real feedback from their clients is very important. They therefore produce a bi-annual client satisfaction survey and generate feedback that can be used internally by staff to improve their everyday work processes, as well as externally to communicate to new potential clients exactly what to expect from committing to Berry & Oak. I therefore worked with Sarah to develop the new questionnaire, compile the feedback and create these reports for 2019. It was great to hear all the really great things their long-standing clients had to say about the team, and to gather any constructive feedback that could be fed back to the team, so that they can continually improve their work.

As a small and family-oriented business, Andrew and Sarah have a very good relationship with all their clients. They therefore gave me the opportunity to sit in on several actual client meetings so that I could gain a rounded understanding of the service that Berry & Oak deliver. This provided me with some great insight into the financial services sector and inspired me to think about a career in financial services post university.

I have largely enjoyed my first experience of working in an office, everyone is always in high spirits, willing to help, and up for a laugh, hence making me feel at ease at work and creating a positive work environment that I feel I was able to thrive in. I would strongly recommend Berry & Oak to anyone thinking of starting a career in financial services, and I am very grateful to Andrew and Sarah for the opportunity to be a part of such a great business as my first proper job!