Accounting & Finance student Jamie Wrench has just completed a placement year with PwC and is now a campus ambassador for them before returning to join their graduate scheme at the end of his degree. In this post, he outlines how he got the placement, his experience on placement and shares his application advice for other students.
Why I did a placement at PwC
A placement was something I was interested in completing from the beginning of my studies as it was constantly highlighted by my lecturers how this would help secure a graduate job and improve performance in my final year. However, I was unsure what kind of career I might be interested in. To assist with this I signed up for the Business School’s Nurturing Talent Programme and was assigned a mentor from HSBC (I would highly recommend signing up for this programme, or exploring other mentoring programmes that might be available in your school or faculty). With the support from my mentor, I then managed to secure a summer internship in Commercial Banking at HSBC. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this, I was mostly interested in the financial analysis which guided me towards applying for PwC.
I completed my placement in Assurance at the Manchester office. As a placement student I started with 30 graduates which was great from a social perspective and I was treated exactly the same as the other graduates. My responsibilities included auditing different areas of the financial statements which required strong relationships to be built with the client and delivering audit findings to the manager which can be taken to the final audit committees. The main clients that I worked on included Royal London and Aviva alongside numerous manufacturing and pension clients. This demonstrated the diversity of clients that can be worked on within a regional office and given Royal London and Aviva are amongst two of the largest clients PwC has, it was definitely contrary to the belief that large clients only exist in London! My main achievement from the year was taking responsibility for the audit of a subsidiary within the Aviva Group which significantly improved my ability to manage a project, take responsibility and my general confidence. Alongside this, I benefited from the fact I completed eight fully subsidised ACA exams during the year and managed to secure a graduate offer without having to reapply!
My first piece of advice would be to apply as early as possible because positions do fill quickly. PwC and many other employers recruit on a rolling basis so positions could be filled immediately. Secondly, completing applications is all about quality rather than quantity. It needs to be ensured that your application is tailored to the company and role. You can do this by researching what makes the company different (i.e its culture/vision) or using the numerous networking events available through university to speak to current employees. The application process for placements can be lengthy, this includes online tests, an assessment centre and a partner interview. It is important to mention that the process is completely skilled based and not knowledge based so do not let your degree background deter you from applying. However, it is key you prepare for these- there are a number of psychometric tests on the internet which can be used for practise and the PwC competencies outline the skills required for roles.
Finally, if you’re interested in finding out more or applying to PwC, it is worth mentioning the PwC presentation evening on Monday 16th October at 6:00pm, as when I attended this helped provide me with further information on PwC and allowed me to network with current employees. The event can be signed up to through the PwC careers page.
Much of Jamie’s advice about applications applies to many employers. Remember we are here to support you with all things careers-related from considering your interests, to job searching to applications. We also provide support with CVs and applications , practice psychometric tests and interviews, including offering mock interviews.