NAME: Nadine Jones
DEGREE AND UNIVERSITY: Business with Law – Kingston University
Work Experience: I have been working with the Corporate Finance Team at Grant Thornton UK LLP since June 2007. The Corporate Finance Team advises companies on how to grow as entities using strategies such as mergers & acquisitions, restructuring, or raising capital. I am studying business with law, therefore learning more about corporate finance and the intricacies of how companies interact with the market has really helped cement my understanding of what I have been studying.
Why did you decide to do work experience? My degree at Kingston University offers students the opportunity to spend their third year of the course on placement working within a company. This is great because as useful as learning theory is, there really is no substitute for learning what the real world is like, and how to implement the theory.
Why did you choose this placement? I wanted to go somewhere where I would receive good training and have the opportunity to learn about the financial services industry. Accounting and finance are the fundamentals of business, and you can go anywhere in the corporate world if you have a good understanding of them – especially as a new recruit out of university. I applied to Grant Thornton and was really pleased when I found out I had been accepted.
What have you been doing during your work experience? I am required to carry out research, which includes: researching a specific company that would be good to acquire in preparation for a potential buyers list, which I collate as part of the process of selling a client’s business; preparing research reports on particular markets or industries (gathering data, analysing and summarising it), to ensure the team is fully informed of past events or developments that could affect our clients. I have also been involved in technical tasks such as company valuations, and in preparing presentations to be given to both potential clients and potential investors.
What impact has this had on your career progression? I have received training since joining the firm, which has included spending a few days with the national research team in London, where I learnt about the various research databases available and how to use them effectively. I have also attended the Introduction to Corporate Finance course at Grant Thornton’s training centre in Bradenham.These learning experiences can be included on my CV and help towards making me a really strong candidate when I start job hunting during my final year.
What have been the highlights of your work experience and were there any downsides? The experience at Grant Thornton has been fantastic. There is a very supportive environment here and everyone has been very approachable and friendly. I have enjoyed being involved with social activities, such as a trip to Edinburgh with the corporate finance teams from London and Milton Keynes, and I have also enjoyed the wine tasting evenings we have held at the office for our intermediaries. A highlight for me was being asked by my visiting university tutor to present to potential placement students at the university on my experience. My team were really supportive, and one member of the team helped me create an impressive presentation. I was able to take the afternoon off to attend university and present to the students.
It’s been almost a year but I have to admit I still haven’t got used to getting up early in the morning!
What have you gained personally? It’s been a great experience. I’ve met loads of people through work and I have even been involved in voluntary community work sponsored by Grant Thornton. I also play on the women’s football team and have been rock climbing with my team! Since joining last June I have been gaining a valuable insight into potential career opportunities within Grant Thornton, and I am looking forward to this, concluding with a one month secondment into the audit department in July.
What qualities do you need to make a success of work experience? You need to be willing to take on anything that is asked of you. You need to be patient, but also enthusiastic and ready to learn. Finding and securing a placement can be a long process, but you should not let this put you off as it is definitely worth the hard work! My team have been supportive of my development, and I would suggest to other placement students that it is important to get involved and not to be afraid to ask for help if you need it
Advice for people wanting to do work experience.I would definitely recommend a placement – knowing how to operate in a professional environment, and working for a good company, makes your CV so much stronger. If you work hard while on placement you might even be offered a place as a graduate trainee. If not, you are still starting your job hunt ahead of the pack because you will have a better idea of the kind of career you want, and where you want to go in the future.