Many students have been asking us about Internships and what they are really like. We asked a student who has recently completed a summer internship to tell us about their experience. Here is their story….
When I first started thinking about applying for an internship I began attending every employer presentation that I could make. This helped me fully understand the process; get a good idea of different company cultures and also made my presence known. Most employer presentations (if not all) provided an opportunity to ask questions or have a quick chat at the end of them. This gives a good opportunity to make yourself known, and also helped me in the interview process when one of the people I had spoken to at an employer presentation turned out to be one of my interviewers. This familiarity immediately helped me to feel more relaxed and confident.
The application and interview process:
I know everyone says it, but seriously, be yourself in your application. Most, if not all, of the “big 4” firms strongly value diversity, and are not looking for a particular type of person who fits a certain mould. From attending various employer presentations and talking to a few employees, one firm really stood out to me. I came away from their presentations with a strong desire to work for them because of the attitude of their staff and the atmosphere at their presentations. Work out what firm you think would be a good fit for you and be yourself in your application. If the fit is really as good as you think it is the individual firm is likely to pick it up as well.
As daunting as the psychometric testing seems, it shouldn’t be. I was interested to find two of my test results were the exact opposite of each other. One of the firms gave us a comprehensive book of our results to take away which I found really interesting to look at – my results were completely different to how I expected them to be in some cases! A number of firms also emphasised that although this testing helps them make their decision, it is not the be all and end all (as I experienced first hand, my mathematics results in one firm were in no way exceptional & they still offered me an internship!).
Heading to my first interview I was certainly nervous. After mucking up my first interview I decided I was going to take a more relaxed approach in future and focus on just being myself. Thorough preparation, including specific awareness of the firm’s values and individual business lines, (usually available on the internet) assisted me to be more relaxed in future interviews. I found the more I prepared the more confident I was going in. Planning your interview for how you want it doesn’t work as I found all four of my interviews to have different formats and questions, however thinking about some specific experiences you have had which show key traits (leadership, prioritising, etc) will certainly be valuable.
The internship itself was not what I expected. In saying that, I don’t know what exactly I was expecting… Working in such a corporate environment took a couple of days to get used to, but I found everyone to be very welcoming and helpful. We received a week’s worth of training (which included two days & a night in Auckland!), although I found 95% of the practical skills required were learnt on the job.
On the first day of my first client, I was paired with a graduate who allocated me tasks from their work and explained what I needed to do. This guidance was fantastic, and having only been a year in the job themselves they were able to understand the difference between what is taught at university and what is required on the job.
My three months were challenging and daunting, yet exciting at the same time. I have a great sense of achievement and satisfaction at having stuck to it, and I am now appreciating the university lifestyle more than ever before… waiting for reality to hit fulltime next year.
Having “survived” three months at one of the “big 4”, I have now received a job offer for next year. The security of having a graduate job lined up is enabling me to spend more time focusing on completing my last year of university to a good standard, as well as allowing me more time to participate in other extra-curricular activities that I enjoy (such as the Victoria Plus Award). My internship has not only removed the stress of “what am I going to do next year”, but has also set me up with a good understanding of what I can expect from my career and first couple of years in the workforce. A very worthwhile and enjoyable experience which taught me a lot and kept me busy over summer as well as providing me a focus to achieve this year.