At Baillie Gifford, we invest on behalf of charities and pension funds over the long term. We don’t believe in furiously buying and selling stocks. Instead, our investment teams imagine the future by trying to understand the possibilities that arise from innovation and the consequences of regional and global events.
Our people are curious about the world and have the vision to see things differently. For us, the way they think is more important than the subject they’ve studied. That’s why we’re just as likely to hire a musician or historian as we are a mathematician or engineer.
We’re looking for people who are curious about the world around them. People who combine intellect, insights and a fresh perspective. If that sounds like you, you could win £6,000 to deliver a research project next summer. All you have to do is complete our quiz and answer the following question in no more than 300 words.
The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, once said that “change is the only constant in life”. It is happening all around us: industries, societies, environments – the list goes on. Pick an area where you see rapid change and tell us why you’re optimistic about the future.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, tell us how you would explore your arguments further. Be original, creative, and thought-provoking. Address an area that is specific enough to draw conclusions.
If chosen, you will complete four weeks of research during June and July 2022. Following this you will spend two weeks in our Edinburgh head office in August (either virtually or with paid accommodation in the city), where you’ll write up and present your findings, as well as learn more about our approach to investment management.
You need to be capable of joining the dots of seemingly unrelated topics to see where innovation and opportunity could lie. Your answer doesn’t need to be an investment opportunity or about companies or economics. Instead, we’re looking for truly original ideas and angles that people haven’t explored before. For example, one of our previous interns researched how global education systems teach creativity - a question that is very important for society going forward and something we want to know more about.
You don’t need to be someone who already knows a lot about their research topic or has any knowledge of investments or finance. We don’t expect you to know all the answers at this stage, but you should know how to ask the right questions. You can be studying any subject, but you must be a penultimate year undergraduate or in the penultimate or final year of a PhD. If you’re a self-starter who is open-minded to new ideas and ways of thinking, we want to hear from you.
“I learnt that the culture at Baillie Gifford is very different to what I had imagined. It’s a relaxed, bookish work culture where people are passionate about their ideas and research.”Erin Thomson,
University of St Andrews, History
We have deliberately asked for you to convey your research proposal in just 300 words. This is because one of the most crucial skills in research is breaking down complex ideas into manageable chunks and concisely communicating them. There’s often a temptation to waffle or to try to cover a big idea, but I encourage you to focus on something that is manageable in a four-week period. This will make your research process far more productive.
I’m looking for self-motivated candidates that are curious about the world. You must be driven and passionate about your subject. The applications that stand out are from people who are authentically interested in their topic and are not just trying to win a competition. We’re not looking to fund postgraduate research, but we’re happy for you to explore a tangent that might have come out of your studies. Equally, it might be an idea that occurred to you on your travels or when reading an interesting article. It doesn’t have to be an idea related to finance or specific companies. Indeed, most successful applications are likely to be from areas outside of the traditional ‘investment’ industry.
The research period is very self-directed. We deliberately avoid giving any research templates or guidance, as we want you to come at things from a new angle we haven’t considered. This reflects the investment analyst role in the firm where, after a few years, you have the freedom to pursue your own ideas and approach to research. It’s unlikely that in four weeks, you will discover entirely unique knowledge or insights. But we’re looking for a new angle that will start a discussion and inspire further creativity from you and us.
When you come to our head office, either in person or virtually, you’ll get placed with an investment team. You’ll also get a ‘buddy’ to help you get to know people within the organisation and provide any help you might need. We‘ll set up meetings with some of our investors who work on interesting research or in areas that may align with your own project. You’ll also use this time to write your research report and prepare a presentation for our investment teams.
University of Oxford
Inspired by some previous work experience, I wanted to research how NGOs in the developing world use technology to aid education. During the Alternative Internship, I spoke to over 50 NGOs, ranging from small education tech start-ups to more traditional school-building projects. I also spent a lot of time reading research papers in the Social Sciences Library at university.
I’ve really enjoyed talking to the African-founded start-ups who have the first-hand experience of the continent’s education challenges. A particular highlight was speaking with Given Edward, the CEO of a tech-education project in Tanzania. He gave me some really useful insights, such as technology is the only way people in remote parts of the country can access education, and that the tech is only as effective as the content it provides. His passion and knowledge were inspiring.
There was so much information to collate for my research project and so many directions I could have gone. Narrowing things down to a single question was challenging. It’s a matter of imposing some order on everything you discover. To create my report and presentation for the investors, I’ve focused on my main ideas and put all the information into clear sections.
The internship surprised me, and I definitely got a better understanding of the role. I realised that working in finance could allow me to do interesting, self-directed research as a full-time job. The time in Edinburgh gives you a real sense of who Baillie Gifford are as a firm. I learnt that they really aren’t looking for one type of person for the graduate programme, which gave me the confidence to be myself in the interview. I think that helped me get the job!
University of Nottingham
I wanted the opportunity to answer the application question, which I thought was really interesting. My research subject was blockchain technology. I hadn't known anything about it beforehand, but as it is a term you hear everywhere, I wanted to find out more. One interesting application I explored was how elections and voting could use blockchain.
I signed up for an online course in partnership with the Blockchain Research Institute in Canada, which gave me a broad overview of its use. Because of the Covid-19 situation, there were lots of free webinars by research institutes in Zurich, Toronto and UCL. I then contacted the people who had taken part in the webinars and they also recommended people for me to speak to.
One of the most challenging aspects of the internship was writing the initial report. You have complete freedom to approach the subject however you want, but I had no finance experience. However, when we started our virtual placement in the office, I was assigned a mentor, Robin, who was really helpful. He looked at my report, gave me guidance on what to include, and advised me how to make it into more of a narrative.
I think I already knew, but didn’t really appreciate, the benefits of networking. You can read all the academic papers and online reports, but you get so much more out of people if you’re speaking to them. So LinkedIn was a valuable starting point for me. One of my highlights was reconnecting with a journalist contact in New York, who gave me some really interesting insights into how blockchain is being used to prevent piracy in the music industry.
Do something that interests you. Don’t worry about what you think Baillie Gifford look for, as that will take away from your creativity, plus they’re looking to hear a different viewpoint. Don’t try to please anyone, as this may stop you from being honest in your opinions and arguments. They give you the time, and you have free rein to do it your way – which for an internship is unusual but really refreshing.