08 September 2023

Shaping the future: how and why we launched an internship program

Over the past 15 years at Exness, we’ve focused on attracting experienced professionals from around the world, whose ambitions for rapid growth and development aligned with ours. Last year, however, we decided to change things up and bring some young talent into our teams, giving rise to the idea of introducing an internship program. This summer, we successfully ran our second program welcoming a new batch of Exness interns. 

So, why did we start this initiative? What are we looking for in our interns? And what do we hope to offer them in the process? We explored all these questions and more in conversation with Anastasiia Khudiakova, our Talent Acquisition Specialist.

We decided that our internship experience shouldn't just be a ‘job’ for interns. Our aim was to ensure they’d get maximum benefit and enjoyment from the program, far beyond the confines of a traditional internship."

Anastasiia Khudiakova Talent Acquisition Specialist

Introducing the next generation to the world of fintech

Our internship program was inspired by a number of factors: first, a desire to introduce the younger generation to the dynamic and exciting heart of a globally successful fintech company, while reshaping any misconceptions they might have, of the industry as a whole, along the way.

We also wanted to give young people the opportunity to put their knowledge into action and see firsthand how their contributions could directly impact the lives of our clients and beyond. 

Our ultimate aspiration though, was to attract vibrant and forward-thinking young professionals  not afraid to speak their minds and bring fresh ideas to the table. 

We also wanted to show the youth that the earlier they bridge the gap between theory and practice, the brighter their professional future could be."

The allure of working for prominent companies after graduation becomes even more enticing when the work is varied and interesting. I can attest to this from personal experience. I joined Exness at the age of 21, having gained experience through various internships during my higher education.

From the beginning, we decided that our internship experience wouldn't be just a ‘job’ for interns — or a routine of tasks and quotas. We had a bigger vision, to provide projects, engaging activities, customized training, and real immersion into the inner workings of the company. Our aim was to ensure they’d get the maximum benefit and enjoyment from the experience, far beyond the confines of a traditional internship.

We are extremely proud that we’ve been able to do this for our cohort of 15 interns over the course of 2 years."

Why Cyprus?

For this year's program, we focused exclusively on candidates from Cyprus. While our team operates all across the globe, we deliberately launched our program locally, from our headquarters. The scheme complements our existing commitment to supporting the younger generation in Cyprus, through our scholarship program. Now we're stepping forward to foster deeper connections with the region's emerging talent, in line with our understanding of the role Exness has to play, as part of the local fintech landscape.

Behind the scenes

This year's internship program actually took root last year, thanks to a group of dedicated individuals determined to make it a reality that includes HR project managers from the People Communication and Transformation team working with us in Talent Acquisition. Our aim was to create roles and opportunities across administrative, entrepreneurial, and technological domains, to make the program a truly worthwhile experience for students from different backgrounds and fields of study. 

Once satisfied, we then began speaking to universities, while our skilled designers lent their expertise to create a dedicated web page, to showcase the positions. Myself, along with HR Project Manager Irene Neocleous and our Employer Brand team, attended career fairs at local universities — giving away T-shirts and other goodies, along with all the necessary information about Exness and the many opportunities on offer within the internship program. This was all backed up with a campaign on social media, essential these days in any attempt to capture the hearts and minds of the young and talented.

What we expected from our interns

To maintain high standards, the intern selection process was quite rigorous, to a point where candidates applying to the Technology team, for example, were given tests similar to what we assign our senior developers.

And because most candidates had extremely limited work experience, pursuing courses that are relevant to each Exness department was key to their selection. So, for the People team internship for instance, we looked for students majoring in human resources, business administration, or marketing.

Another requirement was the possession of so-called ‘soft skills’, where we focused on their  communication, particularly the ability to present themselves and articulate their aspirations, and despite limited experience, the potential to be able to work in a team. 

I was pleasantly surprised to meet many determined and open-minded individuals. But some areas were more difficult to recruit in than others. For example, our reporting and visualization internship required knowledge of business analytics tools, such as building dashboards in Tableau. This tool isn't widely taught in universities, so candidates had to learn about it on their own. But that said, this was also an opportunity to show their resourcefulness.

What interns could expect from us

1. Professional, even-handed attitude. The seasoned professionals at Exness, well-versed in their respective fields, made themselves available to impart their knowledge and experience. While internships were quite new territory for us, we welcomed our temporary team members as peers, regardless of their level of experience. 

Interns were immersed in real business tasks that mirrored those handled by senior colleagues with 8–10 years of experience." 

This approach quickly built an understanding of the inner workings of the company, and the nuances of business operations. For example, interns on the product team helped in shaping development strategies for a cross-functional team that works with developers, customers, applications, and other departments. Technology interns contributed code that could have a lasting impact on Exness products for years to come.

2. Mentorship. Interns found themselves under the guidance of our team leads, who took on mentoring roles while engaging them in ongoing projects and plans over the 2-month period. The leads maintained daily communication, explained concepts and answered questions, assigned tasks, and provided general support. 

3. Continuous learning. The scheme began with a 2-day training session where interns delved deep into fintech and trading, while getting familiar with the Exness product range. There were weekly workshops, and interns were also involved in launching some of our CSR projects.

4. Flexible work approach. Interns enjoyed complete flexibility in their work arrangements, with dedicated work laptops and the ability to work remotely, mirroring how the rest of us at Exness operate. This felt appropriate, considering that some interns were from different cities. 

5. Future opportunities. We have encouraged all our successful interns to continue to monitor opportunities on our careers website and contact us when they find roles that appeal to them. We’d relish working with them again, and considering them for open positions.

6. Compensation. Our internship program was paid because we wanted to provide tangible benefits to our young and talented visitors.

What's next for our internship program

Our ambitions for next year are to open up a wider range of positions across an even wider range of teams. Many team leads who didn't participate in this year's internship program have already expressed their eagerness to host interns next year.

Our plan is to provide them with a wider range of opportunities, while introducing a variety of activities, workshops and lectures with internal and external experts to share their insights. The core of our mission remains the same — we want to show that at Exness, work isn't just about getting the job done.

Top 4 tips for future interns

If you're thinking about interning with us next year, here are 4 things to keep in mind:

1. Pursue a genuine interest. When choosing your role, choose a path you’re truly interested in, that aligns with your passions and leaves you feeling fulfilled. It's important not to view this opportunity as just another way into the company — that mindset rarely leads to success. Without true enthusiasm, maintaining a commitment for two months or more can be challenging. The key is to communicate in your cover letter why you are interested in the role and how it aligns with your goals.

2. Be curious. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It is important to be proactive during the onboarding process and throughout your internship. Internships can be challenging, but don't let shyness hold you back. Know that we have an open and friendly culture here that values initiative.

3. Learn about the company before the interview. Familiarize yourself with our company's business, products, and values before you pursue your internship. Demonstrating your familiarity and willingness to participate will underscore your genuine desire to become an integral part of our team.

4. Believe in yourself. Even if you don't land an internship this time, don't get discouraged. There are always new opportunities on the horizon. It is important to maintain confidence in yourself and your abilities. Experience has shown that persistence and confidence can pave the way to success. For example, one of this year's interns wasn't able to join the team last year, but that didn't stop her from prevailing this year and completing a successful internship.

In the end though, internships are about mutual benefit: injecting fresh ideas and perspectives into the company and its culture, in exchange for experience and fulfilled aspirations. And long may this amicable exchange continue.

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