Cariad Mudford is a final year Accounting and Finance student at the University of Leeds, who recently completed a year-long industrial placement year at Grant Thornton. Here is how she secured a placement with one of the world’s leading assurance, tax and advisory firms.
The first steps…
The chance to gain some real life work experience and increase my employability were the main drivers behind my choice to apply for an industrial placement year.
My first step towards making applications was drawing up a list of all the companies I was interested in working for. Whilst this may sound like an obvious thing to do, it is interesting how many opportunities you come across that you would otherwise never have considered!
Whilst filling out application forms can be a chore, it does make you realise which schemes you are actually interested in – these are the ones where you can honestly fill in the “Why would you like to work for us?” box! It is better to be as true to yourself as possible in your applications and try to get your personality across in your answers. As well as your academic qualifications, more and more graduate recruiters are also focusing on the actual person and the attributes that they have – think of your experiences and the skills you have developed and highlight these in your application.
Verbal and numerical reasoning tests are the bane of most applicants’ lives, and many people find them difficult. Make sure you do plenty of practice before taking the tests. I found the Careers Centre especially useful for providing websites where I could practise these tests.
Interviews and assessment centres
In the majority of my applications, the stage following these tests was a phone interview. Preparation is key for these, the Careers Centre offers mock phone interviews, and don’t be worried if there are odd pauses or breaks as the interviewer needs time to note down your responses! A great tip for phone interviews is to use a landline wherever possible, as this reduces problems like bad signal or low battery alerts.
Once you make it to final interviews and/or assessment centres, it is important to remember that by this point the firm likes you, and wants to confirm you are as good as your application makes out. You may well be asked about something you wrote in your application form weeks ago – so make sure you re-read it before you head in to meet them! Naturally, everyone is nervous at the final interview stage, and the best recruiters will understand this and try to make you feel at ease on the day.
The final result!
I was offered a twelve month placement at Grant Thornton, and accepting the offer was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The work was interesting, the people I met were fantastic and best of all I was offered a graduate position – leaving me free to focus on and enjoy my final year of university. It takes determination and commitment to secure a placement or graduate job, but the time you spend on application processes is definitely outweighed by the rewards of being part of such a dynamic, award-winning organisation.
Remember if you’re in the process of applying for internships, or have no idea where to start with your career – you can drop in the Careers Centre 9am-4pm, Monday-Friday. We’re here to help you!