“If you’re putting in the graft, people will notice”
Since joining Barclays as an apprentice at 16 years old, Bhavika Mistry has combined her career with taking a degree and her passion for table tennis. Here, she shares her experience of playing the sport for England, how she manages her busy schedule – and why Barclays’ Northampton campus feels like “home”.
Bhavika Mistry was just seven years old when she discovered table tennis. A year later, she got her hands on a badminton racquet – and her enthusiasm for both sports hasn’t waned since. Now, sport is helping her continue her education as she studies Digital and Technology Solutions at the University of Strathclyde.
She says that Barclays’ ability to spot different types of potential in new colleagues makes it stand out: “Barclays is more focused on what you're willing to bring to the business which I think is really important, because some people struggle education-wise. At school I wasn't an ‘A* student’, but now I'm doing great.”
The lessons she’s learned on the court have stood her in good stead for a role at Barclays, where proactivity and team spirit are vital.
If you’re putting in the graft, people will notice. This is a key place to get recognised – you'll get so much from it because Barclays is such a big organisation.
Project Management Officer at Barclays
“You just get so much out of an apprenticeship in banking,” Bhavika says. “But at the same time, you do have to put in the effort to get as much out of it as possible. As an apprentice, everyone wants to talk to you, everyone wants to tell you what they do, everyone wants to help you. You’re in a prime position to learn about the business, but also about work in general.”
When you enter the workplace at a young age, as Bhavika did, the way you are welcomed and supported is particularly important.
“It was quite difficult coming from a school environment to a working one,” she recalls. “It’s not like getting a new job in the same role somewhere else – you don’t know anything. You have to learn how to behave in a working environment. That switch was quite difficult.”
Support from her colleagues, varied opportunities and a friendly workplace culture all helped her to settle in. And, although she hasn’t been able to work at Barclays’ Northampton Campus since the first lockdown in March, she says it is a very special place.
As an apprentice, everyone wants to talk to you, everyone wants to tell you what they do, everyone wants to help you. You’re in a prime position to learn about the business, but also about work in general.
Project Management Officer at Barclays
“I love being at work. It is a professional environment but you get that ‘home’ feeling – that’s the closest word. It brings everyone together. Even if you don’t work with a certain person, and just bought a cake from them at a charity stall, they’ll remember you.”
Being able to take a flexible approach to work has also been key for Bhavika, helping her to maintain a balance between her work, sports and degree.
“I know if I need to spend an hour and a half practising in the day, work will allow me to do that, because they know I will put effort in afterwards to make up my time,” she says. “I could have played professionally while working full time at Barclays if I had wanted to. I’ve built up that trust with my team that I’ll get everything done.”
She cites the support she received when she suffered an injury two years ago: “I tore the anterior cruciate ligament in my knee and I had lots of physio. Barclays has been really good helping me get back on track. They never batted an eyelid about ensuring I had the support I needed.”
Bhavika hopes that, if she works hard, she could become a project manager at Barclays in a few years.
“That’s my immediate goal job-role wise, but when it comes to where I want to be on the career ladder, I’m not quite sure yet,” she says. “I am quite young, but I’d love to be a director at some point.”
Asked how she manages to get to grips with such a busy schedule, both in and outside of work, she says it’s all “down to motivation”.
“I know where I want to get to in life and I know what it is going to take to get there. I am definitely driven, because in terms of sport I got to a very good place but I didn’t get quite where I wanted to. I don’t want to do that with my career as well.
“If you want something, then you’ve got to put in the work. I think doing that has really benefited me. If you’re putting in the graft, people will notice. This is a key place to get recognised – you'll get so much from it because Barclays is such a big organisation.”
Reflecting on her experience so far, she encourages would-be apprentices to consider a role at Barclays. “I’ve been earning my own money from the age of 16 and it is quite good money. You get the opportunity to do the degree that you want to do. I would say definitely do it – without a doubt.”