My career journey so far

Posted on: 6 May 2020 by Ned, final year BA International Business with a Year in Industry student at the University of Liverpool in Hints, tips and advice

Hi, I'm Ned and I'm currently in my fourth year at University as an International Business Student.

In my penultimate year I decided that I wanted to do a 12 month Industrial Placement. The reason being that it spreads out your time at University and as it counts for 10% of your degree it’s relatively easy marks to boost your average. Another great thing about it is it boosts your employability and you get paid, so it’s nice to not be in so much debt for a little while!

My placement was at Lenovo Technology Ltd based in Basingstoke, and my role within the organisation was a Sales Associate. This was great as it meant I was often working with a wide variety of customers and I got to meet so many different people from various sectors.

Exploring my options

Now I'm in my final year I am focussed on getting the best grade possible and also looking for graduate opportunities around London and the South East. Despite enjoying my Industrial Placement, I don't want to return to Lenovo, nor do I want to find a role in sales. For me, sales didn’t feel like enough of a challenge and I'm the type of person that needs constant stimulation in my career. For this reason, I have chosen to apply for accounting roles with a number of organisations.

In recent months, I've been reading up on the benefits of working for a small-medium sized accountancy firm. Not only do they fund your qualifications much like the larger firms, but you get given more responsibility and you’ll have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients from day one. This really appealed to me as I would much rather work on multiple projects throughout the year than just one big one.

What's next?

Since lockdown started I have had an online Skype interview with the Mercia Group, who recruit graduates for multiple small accountancy firms in London. This was a first stage interview with the recruiter. The second stage is an interview with an actual accounting firm. I fortunately got through to the second stage and I'm waiting to hear from Shipley’s to find out when my next interview will be! If I were to be offered the job with Shipley’s, it will start in January 2021 as they have pushed back their graduate intake because of Covid-19.

How do Skype interviews work?

The interview itself was much like any other. It was meant to last an hour and fifteen minutes, but it ended up lasting around an hour and forty-five minutes. The person interviewing me had a list of competency-based questions about teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and communication. The recruiter asked one curve-ball question which was “If you were a cartoon character, who would you be and why?”. Luckily I had read on Glassdoor that they often ask this question so I was able to provide a solid answer.

The rest of the interview was very relaxed and just felt like a chat, I had time to ask questions at the end, and the recruiter was able to provide a detailed description of what the job role would be.

This was actually my second attempt at doing the interview as the first time round I had a technical issue where I couldn’t connect to the skype call. So I rang them up on the phone to explain my issue, and they very nearly canceled my interview and retracted my application! Thankfully, I convinced them to interview me again a few weeks later.

Next steps

Once the interview had finished, I made sure to email the recruiter directly to say thank you for their time and asked for any feedback. Just under a week later I received a response saying that I was through to the next round with some points of improvement to ensure I present myself in the best way possible at the next stage, so fingers crossed!