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BlackRock is such a large organisation, but a very nice company to work for. The culture (in the UK offices) is very collaborative and relatively laid-back, compared to many of the banks. The benefits they offer are reasonably competitive, plus they have an unlimited paid-time-off policy, which is almost unheard of in the industry.

People and Culture: During my time at BlackRock, I spent time networking and working with people in different teams, and what stuck out to me most was how friendly and willing to help people were. There was definitely a collaborative culture, and I don’t think I once hit anybody who said they were too busy to help me, or point me to the right person of place to find the information I needed. BlackRock helps to facilitate cross-team connections by arranging small group dinners and running other initiatives.

Training: The training resources are not the best. When you first join, there are a long series of videos and basic training courses that take a while to go through. They have a lot of video courses available, through an internal portal, but from the ones that I did, these were not of the highest quality or in particular detail, especially on the technology-side. It would be useful if they provided additional training credits for external courses.

Size: The size of the organisation can be a negative as well as a positive. Depending on your team, it can feel slightly contained, in terms of that you have a very niche area of work to cover. This is good for knowing particular products or processes in-depth, but limits the exposure to different areas of the business, and thus limits your learning curve to some extent. Additionally, it can be very slow-moving, especially in terms of updating internal libraries and technology to cater for new business demands, which can be frustrating. BlackRock has build a huge collection of resources internally, both on how their systems function under the skin, as well as libraries and helper software.

Compensation and Benefits: Compensation is roughly in line with the market, with a reasonable pension contribution scheme and health insurance covered. They have a program with discounts at various places, and a bonus scheme, though it is not transparent how this is calculated.

Hours: Compared to banks, the hours and workload was low, particularly in my division. Other divisions worked for longer hours, but generally nobody stayed in the office after 7pm, my division probably an hour earlier.

Progression and Internal Mobility: Internal mobility is extremely good. The firm are particularly keen on filling roles with existing employees, and have an internal job portal where roles are posted before they are published externally. Even across divisions, jumps are common and well supported by the firm.

Unlimited PTO: This is a very good policy they have in place. Some people disliked the idea, on the basis that not having a set number of days of holiday might encourage people to take less, but BlackRock encourage taking time off, even asking employees to take at least 2 weeks off during summer. Although technically there must be some internal limit, I have not heard of anyone actually hitting it. Time off has to be approved by your manager before taking it anyway, and you need to ensure your duties are covered by someone else while you are away.
Investments - Quant Investing - Summer Intern
BlackRock’s HireVue is standard for everyone each year, regardless of division you are applying to. The two questions are were:
- Why are you applying to BlackRock?
- Tell us something unique about yourself that we cannot gather from your resume (hobby, interest, achievement, etc.)

1st Round Interview:

Two 30-minute interviews with people from the Trading & Securities team. It was entirely personality, teamwork and values-based, with no finance-related questions at all.
Each question was prefaced with a short couple of sentences about BlackRock’s values, and I was told to keep these in mind when answering the question. Some of the questions that were asked:

- You join a new team and think you have identified ways to speed up their existing processes, how do you proceed to bring this up to the team?
- A client has a problem with some of the work that you or your team has carried out for them. How do you approach resolving the issue?
- A client (or a colleague) has a problem with some of the work you have done, and it is due to a fundamental lack of knowledge in the area. How do you proceed?
- You join a new team and realise that people are not communicating well with each other. How do you improve this situation? What might you implement to help? How do you convince people of the benefits of teamwork and collaboration?

It was useful to know BlackRock’s values, even though they were mentioned prior to each question, so these could be included in the answers, however generally answering with a reasonable approach was sufficient. In particular, highlighting how to overcome communication issues, or communicate effectively, was important.

2nd Round Interview:

Another two 30-minute interviews. My first interview was cut short, but the interviewer asked me to describe an interesting project I’ve worked on and a difficult decision I’ve had to make.
The second interview was with a senior trader, who asked the following questions:

- Name a time you’ve worked in a group with people you didn’t have much in common with, what did you learn and what was the outcome? (It was useful to mention how I will/have applied what I learned in team working experiences going forwards)
- Name a time you’ve worked in a team and what you did to ensure you worked efficiently together?
- What is one blanket theme affecting the financial markets right now? What is driving this?
- How might macro investing models make decisions, and could you expand a bit on what they might do?
- How could you use quantitative techniques in investing? (The interviewer followed up with asking about techniques for Fixed Income assets only, ignoring equities which I started answering for)

Programming skills were also discussed, and how important it is to have these skills as a trader now, so I would definitely recommend having some coding-related skills or project to talk about in the interviewer.

It was emphasised how important it is to learn from others, and how no matter how senior you are, everyone at BlackRock is very keen to help out where you need it, or are curious. Both interviewers gave the impression of a very collaborative culture, which was very positive.

They can take many months from the HireVue to being invited to a 1st round interview, however being invited to the 2nd round happened within roughly a week of the 1st round being completed. The offer decision took an additional 2-3 weeks from the final interview, so not the quickest with responses.
Overall, I think it was a fair interview process, with an appropriate difficulty of questions, and a good company in terms of values, hiring process and collaborative culture.
Job title: Summer Analyst
£55,000 (pro-rata)
Job title: Graduate Analyst
£55,000 (+ £5,000 sign-on bonus)