Not what I signed up for


I've been working at this international bank for almost two years now in what is perceived to be one of the most prestigious graduate programmes around.

The problem I have is that I have been pretty much treated like a temp worker in almost every department I've been posted to. I'm usually given very little responsibility and ownership on projects / tasks that don't have much material impact.

The label graduate trainee is in name only and this is certainly not what I have signed up for.

The only good thing about the programme is that I get lots of classroom training; though I would rather manage a proper project than to listen to someone talk about how to manage a project.

I now have one more year until I "graduate" from the programme and I'm torn between taking up a real job somewhere else (within the bank or not) - where I would be given real responsibility and ownership and concrete targets - or sticking it out so I could earn that guaranteed promotion and pay increase.

My question is, should I have a honest chat with my programme manager about this and tell him what I think? What would be the "HR reaction" if someone like me came to you with such a problem? Is it realistic to expect HR to explore solutions for a junior manager like myself?

Fred, Hong Kong

Patricia Soldati's Answer:

Run, don't walk to your manager and have a respectful, positively-positioned heart-to-heart conversation about what you've been doing, the lack of challenge, your expectations, etc.

Offer specific examples of what you've been assigned vs. what you feel would be more challenging and worthwhile - and why you feel you are up to the challenge.

At the two year mark, this is way overdue - in fact, with such a "prestigious" program I would have thought these kinds of conversations would be built-in to the system.

Have the conversation with your manager first, and then with HR if the situation doesn't quickly change. Any manager or HR personal worth their salt will respect your desire to contribute more and take on assignments with greater impact.

Perhaps the greater lesson learned here is that one ALWAYS must forge their own way in the corporate world - look out for one's own best interests and work clearly, and always respectfully, to that end.

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About our Expert

Patricia Soldati
Patricia Soldati

Patricia Soldati is a former President & COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1998. As a career fulfillment specialist, she helps corporate professionals enhance their working lives – both within the organization – and by leaving it behind.

Older Comments

(just food for your thought) What if all that was perfectly normal? Learning is a long process, especially in any complex organization. You should consider that, seen from another angle, one year is a very short time inside a career. Sometimes it is best to take one's time, learn and observe rather than rush and make mistakes.

Emmanuel Gijon, Europe

Take your time. Rotational programs are like that - they cant give you too much responsibility because they know you are leaving in a year but they want to teach you all about the company because they want you to decide to end up with them after 3 years.

Learn; this is a unique way of learning how those units in the company inter-relate. That's where your value will be. That's what senior executives do.

If you still think that earning your stripes at one department fits you better, then maybe you are not supposed to be training for executive management - the CEO path. Some people are meant to be department managers, not interdepartmental managers.

Fred Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA