Junior Product Manager & Junior Portfolio Manager | Aegon Asset Management
What is starting a new job during a pandemic like? Is it possible to choose the right company if you cannot even visit the office of a firm? Are you able to truly connect with your colleagues without actually meeting them? These questions and doubts together with the experiences of juniors in their positions will be highlighted throughout this article, during this year’s starters cycle. Within this cycle, four different starters will share their experience with starting a job. This week Lina Maria Bernal Fuentes and Irina Kurochkina share their insights in their past positions as Junior Product Manager & JuniorPortfolio Manager respectively at Aegon Asset Management.
Junior Positions at Aegon
Lina and Irina have both recently been promoted from their Junior positions at Aegon, but are happy to discuss their experiences as Juniors and how they enrolled in these positions.
Lina started her academic career in her native country, Colombia. With a more charismatic and serious tone, she briefly introduces herself and starts by sharing her academic career. “I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Management back in Colombia. After this, I started my career within the Finance department of a firm in Colombia as a Planning assistant and I have subsequently held different positions at this company as a Project Manager and a Finance Controller over the years”, says Lina. During her tenure in Colombia, Lina realized that she was interested in both Finance and Organizations. This led her to pursue a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management at the University of Amsterdam.With much enthusiasm, Irina then briefly introduces herself and her background in financial markets. “I completed my bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics in Russia. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I had proceeded with my master’s degree originally in Russia, and then at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, program Financial Economics. Before starting my first full-time job, I completed several different internships in Russia and in the Netherlands which eventually helped me choose the career path that I am in today”, says Irina.
Although their paths seem to be quite similar, they had quite a different way of approaching their career and how they obtained a position at Aegon Asset Management. For Lina, ever since she had finished her master’s in Business Administration at the University of Amsterdam, she started to think about what she had enjoyed the most from her jobs in Colombia. “I liked the interdisciplinary work from my previous positions. Thus, I started to look for a job with such an interdisciplinary role in which I could oversee the entire business. With this in mind, I found the position of Junior Product Manager at Aegon Asset Management”, says Lina.This path has been quite different for Irina as she already had a more profound interest in the portfolio management side of finance. “Before I started to work at Aegon, I had completed several internships within fixed income sales and equity trading at an investment bank. These gave me a clear insight into how the financial world is structured. In addition, after I had started my master’s degree at Erasmus University and did some courses related to asset management industry, I realized that I want to work for an institutional investor, which is why Aegon was the right fit for me says Irina.
Finding out which position suits you is one thing, but finding the right company is a whole different story. Irina recounts that she had actively participated in many in-house events that had taken place at Erasmus University that gave her a better insight into the corporate cultures and values of the companies. She particularly emphasized that she had participated in the Asset Management Tour, organized by FSR, which provided her with the opportunity to visit the participating companies and brought her in contact with their recruiters. After visiting another student event at Aegon, she saw a vacancy at the firm and felt much more comfortable and confident in applying for a role with the company as she knew what to expect.
Since Lina and Irina made a rather big decision to start their careers in the Netherlands, we asked Lina and Irina about their experiences as an employee with an international background at Aegon Asset Management. Lina quickly stated how inclusive the corporate culture at Aegon is. “I realize that it can be a big change for a company to incorporate international employees. It is nice to see that at Aegon they are always willing to include you. They are always willing to adjust the language of the meetings to make you feel part of them. You really feel welcome in the company”, says Lina. As for Irina, she mentions that the company has also been very supportive in helping her get a work visa. “For foreigners, this can often be a hurdle when trying to apply for work in The Netherlands. So, finding a company that is willing help you with this is really important.”
Both Irina and Lina have applied at Aegon Asset Management and started before the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though these application processes have taken place online and offline, it is still important to highlight what can be expected after applying for a role at Aegon, even if this has been subject to change due to the coronavirus crisis.
After applying, Lina explains the next steps. “The first part of the application procedure took place online. Here, different assessment tests needed to be completed before moving to the next steps of the application. The tests were neither very lengthy nor extremely difficult. Furthermore, you should remain wary of these online assessments and not directly judge yourself based on the results of these tests, as they do not directly reflect all of your skills. Just take your time to focus and prepare yourself as best as possible.”
Furthermore, both Lina and Irina greatly appreciated the short timelines during the application process, as they received quick responses to their applications.. What was also appreciated was that the last interview was an assessment of the cultural fit between the new candidate and the team in which he/she will be working. This ensures that there is a good chance of great teamwork between the new candidate and the current team, and also shows that the online assessments do not determine everything.
Applying during COVID-19
As mentioned before, Irina and Lina have not applied for their positions during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is still insightful to get a clearer picture of what to expect while applying during this ongoing pandemic. “Just because the internships will likely take place for the greater part online during this period does not mean that you should not apply”, says Irina. She argues that despite not being physically present at the office during your internship you will still learn a lot and possibly even more than if you were physically present at the office. “For example, next to conducting your internship project, you should not hesitate to ask your manager which colleagues you can approach in order to learn more about other teams and their activities. This will broaden your understanding of the company and where you might want to pursue your career going forward. Your manager often knows best who is the expert in a certain field and can directly link you to someone for an online meeting. Not only will you have direct contact with this person, but you may even be offered more insights than you would have during a brief conversation in the office.”
Personal Tips from Lina and Irina
Nearing the end of the interview, both Irina and Lina gave some constructive advice for students who are starting their search for a job. “It is important to look for something you like. If you end up with a job that is not your dream job, do not hesitate to move on and persist in finding your dream position”, says Lina. Irina emphasizes that you should not only focus on your academic work but also on your soft skills. “When you start working, what you have learned at the university will be put to the test. What matters and what many people tend to forget about is developing soft skills from an early stage. Time management, team work, communications, stress management. These will help you excel in your career”, says Irina.
About the Junior Positions and Aegon Asset Management
Aegon Asset Management has moved from a renowned Dutch company into an inclusive, international entity with office locations in different parts of the world. Not only is it a large organization with many growth opportunities, it is also an entity in which the atmosphere is warm and welcoming to all applicants from all backgrounds.
The Junior Positions at Aegon all have similar benefits. With many opportunities within the firm, candidates often grow at a fast pace as they will get great responsibilities from early on, with great guidance from managers and seniors at the company.
What’s in it for you?
At Aegon Asset Management, you will be working for one of the largest asset managers in the Netherlands with many growth opportunities and a great and inclusive corporate culture.
Get in touch!
Emily van der Werff
Talent Acquisition Manager | Graduate Recruitment
Want to see open positions at Aegon? Check financialcareerplatform.nl