Name: Helen Hartwell, 22
Degree: Masters in Physics, Oxford University, 1st, 2004
Occupation: Analyst, PA Consulting Group
What do you do in your job?
I work in the financial services sector of PA Consulting, which is a management, systems and technology consulting firm. We work with clients to solve problems or to help them achieve certain business objectives. As an analyst, I support the team, which could mean that I’ll do quantitative analysis, research or client interviews. At the moment I am developing an intranet site and I am currently working with a global insurer.
Motivation in applying?
It was really important for me to work in a team and that is a large part of consulting life. You are rarely working on your own – you work with people from your own company as well as clients. There is a lot of variety in the job. Since I joined here I have worked on four different projects. We can work where our clients are based, and so consultancy can offer really good opportunities for travel. It also offers the opportunity to do high-profile work with high-profile clients. I didn’t see it as a complete change in direction from my degree; you learn many transferable skills from reading physics, such as logic and analytical skills.
What did the application process involve?
There was an initial online application form and then a number of interview stages. I had a general interview and a verbal and numerical test. The next round was an assessment centre, which involved a group exercise and a case study that you do on your own. Then there was a final interview. When you join you attend a three-week residential training course.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The number one thing for me is the variety of work.
Most challenging part of the job?
You have to learn a lot very quickly. You might be doing long hours some days and it can be tiring, so it is a challenge to keep yourself balanced.
There honestly isn’t a worst part to this job. You hear a lot of horror stories about consultants working really long hours but I haven’t experienced that. We do work reasonably long hours but I haven’t done any all-nighters in the office.
It is really important to make sure that you know what the job is about before you even consider writing the application form. It is hard to find out what consultants actually do, so try to talk to someone that does it, so that when you get to interview you know exactly why you want to do it, not that it just seems like a good idea. Don’t be put off by the fact there is a lot of competition.