All careers look attractive in the brochure so choosing the right one can be a difficult process. I studied Immunology at university – this meant I knew very little about finance and accountancy. I spent a long time researching potential careers and employers, finally deciding on training to become a chartered accountant with PwC.
I joined the Assurance (audit) department in the Edinburgh office in September 2009 and started studying for the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). Since joining I’ve had the opportunity to work on the audits of a number of high profile and interesting companies including; banks, building societies, manufacturing and asset management companies. I’ve also sat and passed a number of accountancy exams.
What do PwC do?
PwC are one of the world’s leading professional services firms, advising some of the most successful organisations, entrepreneurs and private businesses. Graduate opportunities fall within five main areas:
- Financial Advisory
I work within the Assurance practice and joined via the generalist route. I felt this would give me a good breadth of experience and help me make more informed career decisions once qualified.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working here is very much a people orientated experience. You’ll naturally become friends with people who joined in the same year as you and go through the highs and lows of being a trainee. You’ll also be given the opportunity to get to know colleagues at different levels of the firm and in different business areas. There are a variety of sports teams, including football, touch rugby and netball as well as lots of different social events to get involved in.
Aside from the people, the other element of my job that I have found very rewarding is the speed at which you can be given responsibility. It may only take a few months before you’re coaching less experienced colleagues and within two years you can be given significant responsibilities in complex areas as well as managing teams.
What are the most stressful parts of the job?
Work can frequently be quite stressful but being able to work effectively under pressure is an important professional skill. This is particularly important when working to tight deadlines and studying for professional exams.
There is plenty of support available to help you get through the particularly challenging periods. During the exam periods you have your tutors, a professional qualifications manager from PwC and your fellow trainees to support you. While at work there will always be people around you working to the same deadlines, this may include other trainees, managers and even partners.
You are also assigned a buddy when you join who can help with all the small things when settling in to the firm and a people manager to help guide your career in the direction you want to go in.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I am currently two years into my training contract. My main goal at the moment is to ensure I pass my one remaining exam, the test of professional expertise exam, which I will sit in a few months time.
Once qualified, I would be interested in going on an overseas secondment. People from the Edinburgh office have recently secured secondments to places as varied as Boston, New York, The Cayman Islands, Melbourne and Sydney.
Any advice for the interview process?
The application process can seem daunting at first as it can feel like lots of different requirements and stages. It’s important to take your time with your initial application as it will follow you through the whole process. Make sure you’re clearly addressing the requirements of each question and don’t be tempted to use generic answers.
For competency based interviews, I’d recommend reviewing the firm’s website and finding a list of competencies that they look for in their graduates. For each competency, think of one or two examples of how you have demonstrated them. This will stop you getting caught off guard in an interview and repeating the same examples.