How to Succeed in Your Internship

By Michael Bellmore

With applications for PwC’s 2017/2018 Summer Vacation Program officially opening, I thought now would be the perfect time for me to offer some tips on the recruitment process!

I’ve worked across the Careers Engagement team at Chartered Accountants ANZ, as well as the Campus Recruitment and Private Clients teams at PwC. So, I thought I’d draw on my experiences to offer some advice on applications, interviews and how to make the most of a vacationer, internship or clerkship position.

When you’re applying for a program…

How to Succeed in your Internship

 

There’s plenty of advice out there on how to excel in the recruitment and interview processes. One key message that continues to pop up is the importance of research. Before applying for a program, applicants should gain an understanding of the organisation’s core values. Applicants should also find out what specific competencies or skills are sought after by the organisation and touch on these whenever possible.

When you’re being interviewed…

How to Succeed in your Internship

 

When it comes to interviews, I always recommend using the STAR technique. STAR comes in handy when you’re hit with tricky behavioural questions such as, “Tell us about a time when you demonstrated…”

I also want to emphasise the importance of being genuine and authentic with your responses. “Authenticity” is the flavour of the month across corporate management thought leadership. Trust me when I say that you’ll stand out from the hundreds of applicants if you bring authenticity to an interview.

Think of a time when a friend, colleague, politician or acquaintance has been disingenuous or fake (which we can instinctively detect…). Didn’t it make you feel uncomfortable? Well, your interviewers will ALSO feel uncomfortable if an interviewee isn’t being open and authentic.

When you’ve scored a vacationer position, internship or clerkship…

How to Succeed in your Internship

 

Your performance in a junior role won’t be assessed purely on your knowledge and skillset. Whilst basic business acumen and technical knowledge are both necessary, I assess the performance of a candidate largely on their attitude and thirst to learn.

This is reflected in PwC’s Learning and Development 70:20:10 model. The model is based on the idea that learning involves a combination of ‘doing’ (70%), learning from others (20%) and formal learning (10%).

If you’re asked to prepare an agenda for a meeting, I’d suggest that you identify the purpose of the meeting and find out how it contributes to the overall project. Better yet, ask your senior if you can attend the meeting and offer to note down minutes and action points.

When you receive instructions, repeat them back to your senior or write them down to ensure that you understand your assigned tasks.

When you’re taking a lunch break…

How to Succeed in your Internship

 

Don’t underestimate the importance of building close relationships with each of your colleagues. Get to know your workmates in a social setting, without the stresses of deadlines and meetings.

I find it annoying when I invite a new staff member for a coffee downstairs and they respond with, “No thanks, I don’t drink coffee”. I don’t mind if you order a juice or hot chocolate. I don’t mind if you just come for the walk! I’m inviting you to join me for a relaxed 10-minute break away from our desks. A $3.50 coffee with a colleague can do wonders for your network!

Every time I’ve joined a new team or company, I deliberately didn’t pack lunch for at least the first two weeks. This encourages you to go for a walk and have meal with members of the team who also didn’t bring lunch. You’ll quickly get to know everyone in your team, juniors through to seniors. Ultimately, building strong relationships with your colleagues will help later down the track, when your performance is being assessed. Partners and managers will be more inclined to offer graduate roles to employees with whom they have strong relationships.

Keep in mind…

Throughout your vacation placement, internship or clerkship, it’s important for YOU to assess whether the team or company is a good fit for you.

Be sure to meet with your supervisor or HR contact to provide constructive feedback relating to your program. This allows the company to ensure a positive experience for future students who partake in the program.

Michael Bellemore is currently a Senior Accountant at PwC in their Private Clients team where he assists entrepreneurs and brands achieve their expansionary goals and exit strategies through audit and consulting services. Previously, he has worked in PwC’s Campus Recruitment and Firm Leadership teams and externally in a Careers Engagement role. He is also the founder and co-owner of CandelaCollection.com.au, a small business he started whilst completing his Business degree at UTS. Michael is passionate about achieving diversity & inclusion in the workplace, travelling the world and volunteering for organisations who support disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Feature image courtesy of Pexels.

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