It was the question I was dreading. I was halfway through a video call with the wonderful Emma Brian, the Haggie Partners HR manager, and somehow I thought I had managed to avoid making a fool of myself, just about. I really wanted this internship.
Yet this question seemed inescapable.
I muttered the truth, which was a resounding no. My experience with insurance in particular did not extend past the twirly-moustached tenor in the GoCompare adverts and the black-box in my Vauxhall Corsa. At that point, I would have had a hard time defining it, let alone communicating in its domain.
You can imagine my relief when instead of a silent nod and a scribble of a note, I was reassured that this was completely fine.
In many ways, this initial interaction with HP set the tone for a wonderful seven weeks. You’d be hard pressed to find a team more willing and capable to share their knowledge. That’s the beauty of working at HP, their understanding of their industry is some of the deepest in EC3.
When you’re working in communications, you have to get to grips with nearly all aspects of the re/insurance process. After all, if you don’t understand what’s being communicated you can’t communicate it effectively. HP has the wonderful advantage for an intern in having time-honoured relationships and entrenched knowledge of what their clients are trying to both say and do, that through osmosis one finds oneself learning without ever really thinking about it.
The jargon of re/insurance can be confusing, especially for a young neophyte such as myself. It was a pleasant surprise, however, to discover that working at HP can get you up to ‘conversational standard’ pretty quickly. By no means would I consider myself fluent, but my time here has certainly equipped me with a vocabulary I’d have never learnt in a lecture room.
But beyond the expansion of vocabulary and deepened insight, HP has given me a fantastic experience with some truly wonderful people. You would struggle to find a more welcoming office across the city, and as an intern I couldn’t have hoped for a more amiable company.
Across my time here I drafted press releases and taken part in extremely competitive inter-team darts matches, I learned how to analyse the insurance press and I went to amazing suppers with my coworkers; HP is anything but boring.
I couldn’t have asked for a better internship this summer. At the start of the year, I told myself I needed to occupy my holiday with a job I either enjoyed, or a job where I learned something useful. How lucky I was to find somewhere where I could do both.
Perhaps one day, as I face the looming prospect of finding a job after university, I’ll be asked a similar question:
“So Tim, have you had any experience in financial communications?”
As a matter of fact, I have.