Early Identifications Programmes Manager
What do you look for in graduates who apply to work at your organisation?
The best applicant has done their homework. They know what they want to do and why and understand what the day job will involve. They have researched their options and made informed decisions by talking to PwC staff, attending events and using our website to the full – watching the blogs and podcasts. Proactive students are key to success at PwC as we always have to be one step ahead – demonstrate this by showing that you’re curious and look to learn whilst doing part-time work, volunteering or doing an internship.
Commercial awareness is also important, students need to demonstrate that they keep up to date and have an opinion about key issues impacting the world today. No excuses – you can’t escape the daily debates on the economy or politics. Listen to the radio, watch the news or even topical debate programmes like Newsnight.
How important is the subject a graduate has studied? Do you employ graduates who have studied a subject not directly related to your industry? If so, why is this?
We accept applications from any degree backgrounds. We believe in diversity and the variety of experiences graduates can bring from all subjects. The most important thing is to identify the skills you have learnt from your degree and articulate how this can help you in your role at PwC. So for example: if you are studying history perhaps you're particularly skilled at research and debate. Science may hone your logical thinking skills, English your articulation and ability to interpret information and psychology your ability to interpret information and translate complex theory into real life.
All of these are skills that are relevant in any workplace today. Essentially we don’t want 1,000 people all the same; we want 1,000 individuals to help us to stay one step ahead of the curve and the iconic brand in professional services.
How can graduates prepare themselves for the graduate job market?
Research, Research, Research. Don’t make assumptions about what a role involves. Lots of firms package lots of different jobs under the same title so ensure you know what it means to join a particular firm and what your role would be. Don’t undersell yourself – take stock of all the things you have done over the past few years, from academic achievements to personal developments and be prepared to talk in detail about them to showcase your ability. If when you have written it all down you feel you are falling short of a particular experience/skill set then go and find an opportunity to develop that area.
The key is to find your unique selling point and articulate to a potential employer why you are the ideal employee. There are a high number of applications per job so you need to stand out by having more than your degree to offer.
What sorts of skills should graduates seek to gain while at university that will prepare them for the graduate job market?
Skills that will be used in a graduate job; team working, communication, presentation skills, and negotiation skills are all key to start developing early on. Try and put yourself in the shoes of someone doing the role you want – what do they have to deal with and how can you develop these skills in your environment?
What kind of work experience and extracurricular activities would you recommend students get involved in?
I would definitely recommend getting actively involved in a society – learning how to coordinate groups and manage events/customers/clients such as sponsors are great skills to learn.
Any part time work can be useful – stacking shelves at Tesco gives you a real insight into the supply chain at a giant retailer! (And a huge PwC client no less)
Even mentoring others – helping with maths tuition for example can develop valuable skills in communication, coaching and patience!