Deciding to apply for a week-long work experience programme with a consultancy firm when I was still at school seemed like a leap into the unknown – I thrived on talking to and helping people, I was good at maths and I liked the sound of working in finance, so I joined the dots and that’s how (long-story short!) I found Hymans Robertson.
Why did you choose to do an internship?
I went on to study Finance and Statistics at university and on starting my penultimate year I was already on the lookout for an internship. I was keen to be involved in a role where I would use both my technical and interpersonal skills – actuarial consultancy seemed to fit this. I had already been introduced to Hymans through their work experience programme and knew that their office had such a friendly and supportive atmosphere, so the internship they offered seemed like the perfect opportunity. Not only that, but experience from an internship would be a great foot-in-the-door for future graduate positions, no matter what career path I decided to pursue.
What was the application process like – any advice?
The process wasn’t as daunting as I expected – Hymans did a great job at putting me at ease and keeping me in-the-loop from the very start. Once my initial application had been accepted, I had a telephone interview to discuss my application in further detail.
My advice would be to:
- Think about how your experiences align with what the company values are – even the trivial experiences that you think might not be worth mentioning.
- Be yourself and don’t compare yourself to the other candidates – the company will be looking to employ a range of people with diverse skills and personalities.
- The tests will be timed so don’t panic – it’s sometimes better to answer fewer questions and do them correctly than rushing through the whole paper.
- Network during the lunch hour – it gives an opportunity for other junior and senior members of the firm to have an understanding of you and it could work in your favour.
- Do your research on the company and read up on some current issues surrounding the area of business they are involved with as you will be asked questions on this.
Overall, the process was very organised and efficient. Even once my offer came through, the HR department made a real effort to keep in touch. Before starting, all of the interns were invited to lunch to meet each other which really helped to ease our nerves.
What were your main duties?
The first few days of the internship consisted entirely of training. We were shown everything we needed to know, from how to work the computer systems to carrying out calculations that would become part of our day to day work. It was an intense few days but only made me more excited to get an insight into the fast-paced life of a consultant.
The flow of work started relatively soon after and within a few weeks I felt the work I was doing was actually of real value to my team. I was involved with a generous amount of client work that involved emailing and even phoning clients, as well as other project work. My fellow colleagues really went out of their way to give me a great variety of work. It was exciting to be able to work with a whole host of people from across the firm and gain their perspectives on different pension issues, from junior to more senior members.
In addition to this, each of the interns was given a project to work on and we would present our results at the end of the eight week placement. This seemed like a daunting thought at first, but as the weeks went on I grew more confident and was able to present without much hesitancy.
It was easy to see that people at Hymans were very passionate about the work that they were doing and truly wanted to deliver a great quality service to their clients. The work is challenging and at times you are required to work longer hours but this will ultimately allow you to reach your full potential.
What were the most important things you learnt from the internship?
One of the most important things I learnt was to ask for feedback. There were times when I could have done a job more efficiently or effectively and getting feedback was a great way of improving my skills and showing enthusiasm for the job at hand.
I also learnt that it’s important to take any opportunity that is given to you, even if you are reluctant at first. I learnt from each challenge that came my way and showed others that I was capable of taking on more responsibility, consequently opening paths for other new opportunities.
By the end of my placement, I had improved both my commercial awareness and problem-solving skills and was able to apply them in real business situations. I went back to university for my final year with an enthusiasm for pursing a consulting career at Hymans.
Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
- Do your research on a company before applying for any positions and make sure it is somewhere you can see yourself working. It is far better to spend a lot of time applying for a few companies than not putting the effort into the applications for lots of companies.
- Go to recruitment fairs/employer events early in your university career. You can get a feel for the company and ask any questions you want here. It may even be possible to go to an insight day at the company or even shadow a member of staff if you aren’t yet in your penultimate year.
- If you don’t have any consulting experience, don’t panic. Even volunteering in your local community or getting a part-time job will help you to show employers you have the skills that they are looking for.