Trying to decide which career to go into after university is hard – there are so many options and opportunities, in a tough and competitive graduate market, it can seem pretty daunting. PwC have been rated number one in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers in the UK for the last nine years – why not start by looking at us!
I’m Charlie and I’ve been at PwC now for three years. At first I joined PwC on a temporary basis for a six month placement to help fund my gap year travelling, before joining permanently in the audit and assurance department in September 2010.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduating and my degree didn’t point me in any clear direction. I decided to apply for work experience at PwC to decide if it was a career I would be interested in. This gave me a fantastic insight into the PwC’s culture and ethos and the experience led to me joining full time. When you first start at PwC, you are transported back to the days of starting school or university. There are the usual first day nerves and you are the least experienced and amongst the youngest in the office. Having said that, on average there are 16 new starters in Jersey each September, ranging from graduates and school leavers, to career changers, so it’s an exciting time to make new friends and all learn together.. You are given plenty of time and support on a day to day basis from your colleagues which really helps you to get to grips quickly with what you are doing.
This initial support is firmly built into PwC’s culture and it’s a great way to start your career. This is so important as PwC employs candidates from across the world as well as Jersey, many who are new to the Island and have the added challenge of settling into a new home as well as a new career. Each year the local graduates and PwC mentors take it upon themselves to introduce the non-local intake to Jersey before the training contract begins. Typically this time is spent touring the island, introducing them to the best Jersey has to offer and is also a great way to get to know each other before the work starts. PwC also helps non-locals with temporary accommodation and they arrange a ‘buddy’ in the year above to act as a point of contact for your first day and following weeks. On your first day in the office, drinks and a meet and greet session are organised so that you get to meet others within the office. At PwC you are made to feel very welcome early on and a part of the team from the start.
The first two weeks of our contract were spent studying with BPP a professional service provider for the ACA or ACCA qualification. When you join PwC you have a choice of which qualification you would like to study for, and I have so far completed twelve of the fifteen ACA exams with just my finals to sit at the end of July 2013. The exams are challenging – that’s a fact! They require serious dedication and focus from the start, but the support network at PwC is fantastic and has helped so much. With hard work and support it is so worth it in the end, once qualified I’ll have an internationally recognised qualification for life and will have achieved that with excellent technical work experience at PwC.
After the BPP study, your PwC life begins with two weeks of internal training with our Guernsey colleagues. These two weeks are your introduction and handbook on how to perform your daily job. This induction is the foundation for you to build upon, particularly throughout your training contract, which is three years in length.
After induction you are included in an audit team and set to work on one of PwC’s fantastic clients. One of the great things about PwC is that particularly in your first two years, you will always be working as part of a team with a mixture of experience and expertise which is great for getting to know people, but also reassuring that there is always someone to ask a question of. These seniors will become your mentors and you will find for the first year or so you have so many questions and queries for them – at PwC we have a ‘there’s no such thing as a silly question’ attitude and the atmosphere is very open and helpful. No-one is afraid to ask for or offer help, which for me, was important given that I didn’t come from an accounting background.
Also from the start, you’re assigned a career coach, usually a manager, who will help guide you throughout your career at PwC and help you to monitor your progress and development. At PwC there is a solid support structure in place that helps you to make the most of your time with the firm and excel in your career. Having a manager’s support, assistance and close attention, who has been through the same exams, and who will have at least five years experience with the firm, is invaluable.
Throughout my first three years my clients have been mostly in the private equity and public sectors although I have also worked on banking, funds and property fund clients. PwC tries to give you a diverse portfolio so that you can obtain a real insight into different industries during your training contract, and this experience really helps you to decide which sector interests you most and therefore which one you would like to focus on as you become more senior. PwC also looks to maintain continuity with your clients so that you can really build relationships which are really satisfying.
During my time at PwC so far I have had a variety of industry insights, developed fantastic relationships with my colleagues and clients, progressed from Associate to Senior Associate and am close to qualification. It has been fast moving, and very rewarding. As I’ve progressed PwC has recognised my achievements and I have increased responsibility each year which motivates and drives me forward. For me, this is important - I need goals and levels to aspire to, to keep me interested and motivated. There’s no sitting around at PwC – you have a very clear line of career progression if you choose to take it.
We are able to work on a number of clients each year and this diversity means that your job changes from one week to the next to keep you interested and on your toes. There is also plenty of opportunity to travel abroad on jobs, such as Switzerland, France, Mauritius, India and the UK. This year I spent February in Paris with an audit team which was a great experience and very different to a normal day in the office in Jersey. There are also secondment opportunities in many of PwC’s network of Firms across 159 countries in the world and colleagues have transferred temporarily to Sydney, Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York, Boston and London to name but a few.
The months from January to April are our busiest due to the number of clients with December financial year ends. PwC tries to make sure we have time to relax and unwind by putting on regular social events during the year such as month end drinks, fundraising initiatives such as dress down Friday’s, family trips to the zoo and cinema and the Summer and Christmas parties for all staff members. There are also various sporting opportunities on offer including weekly five a side football, cricket, netball and rugby, and this year a big group also went for a long weekend skiing in France. In short we’re a very sociable office!
In Jersey we are lucky to be able to work for some of the biggest financial service names in the world, right on our doorstep. I work with, and for people who I have become good friends with, in a happy and supportive environment. If you are leaving school or university or even thinking of a career change and have high aspirations, give PwC some thought. Do some internet research to see if it might be for you, and if so, contact our HR department to request a week of work experience, it’s a great insight to what we do, and was all I needed to persuade me that PwC had the career for me.