Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cindy Jiang secures a Summer Internship with AIG

My name is Cindy Jiang and I am a second year Political Economy student at the University of Birmingham. The “IT’s not just for the boys” was a great and inspiring event which has highly influences my professional life plans. Through personal searches and various companies I have met on campus throughout my first year I slowly developed an interest in IT. My knowledge of technology is quite limited in regards to coding or logistics but I have already been fascinated in the challenging and innovative industry of IT.  This event was the perfect opportunity for me to go outside my comfort zone and learn more about the various positions and schemes some IT related companies had to offer.

Targetjobs requested an application to filter only the highly motivated and interested students to the event. The application process went smoothly, with firstly an online submission form of CV and a few answers on the reasons which inspired me to attend the event. Having passed this stage, I was selected for an interview- which again I had to prepare for, but wasn’t too difficult- It was important to demonstrate your true interest to the event. I personally really enjoy these events as you are able to meet many representatives from companies you have barely/never heard of and many other likeminded students. The event was very well organized with incredibly friendly members of Target jobs and also company representatives. It was held in the fascinating Bloomberg offices in London, in a conference room with superb facilities. The day started with the amazing guest speaker Kate Taylor (an empowerment coach) and followed by many activities which involved team challenges and also networking sessions. During a networking session I was able to meet a representative from AIG working in an industry I was very unfamiliar with, insurance. Through this conversation I have learned a lot on the insurance industry, but more precisely about AIG. I had the chance to talk with a human resource member of the company who has outlined the various positions they have to offer to undergraduates. As I seem to have been sharing the right sets of skills with one of their positions, I was highly recommended to apply to a scheme which would allow me to gain a real insight into this industry. Throughout this event I was also able to meet recent graduates which joined the various companies which joined us for the event. I was able to assimilate with them and learn more about their respective roles. I was able to compare and make my own ideas of which companies and areas I would most likely see myself working in. Following this day I continued doing some research by myself and have sent my application for a summer internship with AIG. I have successfully passed the online application process and was kindly invited for an assessment day a few months later.

All these events followed up very quickly and I have now secured a Commercial Underwriting Summer Internship with AIG for summer 2017.

I would highly recommend students who are still unsure of their future career path to be curious and attend as many interesting events as they can. Years go by quickly, so make the most of it, meet employees and develop new skills- it is always in your advantage!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Undergraduate of the Year ‘Future CFO’ 2016 winner Molly Ashton visits the capital of the European Union

Shortly about to commence her final year of studies before starting a graduate role in Tax at PwC, Molly was chosen as our winner. Intelligent, with an adaptive thought process having the power to influence others, she showed all of the skills desirable for a future CFO. Molly also proves that you don't have to fit a certain mould to become an accountant: she is an avid fashion and beauty blogger, traveller, and animal lover! She describes her trip to Brussels in her blog here 

With our finalists being asked to debate the threats and opportunities associated with BREXIT for a small to medium business owner, a part of Molly’s prize was the unique opportunity to spend 2 days in the European Headquarter in Brussels, to meet with influential business advisors, EU officials, and even getting an exclusive tour of the European Parliament, organised by ACCA Brussels office.

First on the agenda was a meeting with Clara Lemaire, Head of the Brussels Office of Centrica, Sean McGuiree, Director of the CBI Brussels office and Cian Rice, director of EU Government relations for Barclays. They all stressed that the Brexit vote had increased the necessity for UK businesses to have a presence in Brussels. This allows companies to obtain intelligence on, and influence policies affecting their activities, and also to act as a link between the EU institutions and their UK offices. Meeting with influential people in the financial sector in Brussels helped Molly to understand some of the wider issues taking place following on from the BREXIT vote. Molly also heard a presentation by our Brussels office on ACCA’s EU affairs activities and on how Brussels works. 

On Day 2 of the trip, after a meeting with Peter Ujvari, a member of ACCA Corporate Reporting Global Forum and senior IFRS expert at the KBC bank, Molly received an exclusive invite to the European Commission and to the European Parliament. One of the Commission's main roles is to propose legislation, which is then adopted by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
The ACCA delegation visited the Directorate General in charge for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA), where ValĂ©rie Ledure, an ACCA member and the Deputy Head of the Accounting and Financial Reporting Unit, gave an overview of the work of the European Commission in general, and of her unit, more specifically.  

The group then had the opportunity to get a private guided tour around the impressive European Parliament by Rhiannon Price, the Senior Policy Advisor of Welsh MEP Kay Swinburne, predominantly active in the field of financial services.

After lunch at the EP’s canteen, the ACCA group was joined by Andrea Laskava, a special adviser to EPP’s President MEP Manfred Weber, who shared with us precious insights on the functioning of the EP and the internal political games.

In addition to better understanding the role of the European institutions, Molly also got to enjoy the cultural side of Brussels with visits to the Magritte Museum, the Royal Palace, the old town centre and of course eating Belgian waffles and frites.

Reflecting on the trip Molly said:

"I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Brussels, understanding more about the EU parliament and what ACCA's role is in the city was really interesting. It was strange to go from ACCA's huge London HQ to an office of two members in Brussels who work more closely with the parliament and commission to understand policies. The trip has helped me understand how diverse ACCA's role is across the world and has definitely intrigued me to find out more in the future!"

Monday, January 9, 2017

You have to be in it to win it! Words of advice from Management Undergraduate of the Year Shona McCotter

Hi everyone, my name is Shona McCotter and I have been lucky enough to receive the coveted TARGETjobs Management Undergraduate of the year award 2016, sponsored by Enterprise-Rent-a-Car.
I was reading through my university emails one day when I saw this particular opportunity to enter the UK Undergraduate of the Year awards. It immediately took my interest and I chose to enter the Management category.
What I really liked about this category was that Enterprise-Rent-a-Car was the sponsor. Having won graduate employer of the year on various occasions and with a summer internship and a week in the states up for grabs I knew this is would be an amazing opportunity.
Having completed my online application and passing my phone interview, I was then invited to an assessment day at their European Head office in Surrey. To say I was nervous in the days and hours beforehand was an understatement (I travelled from Barcelona – so I had a lot of time to dwell!).
The assessment centre was a lot less daunting than I imagined. The ERAC team were genuinely so friendly and down to earth, and this made me feel much more comfortable in expressing myself throughout the different tasks with other candidates and in my one to one interview. They really wanted each of us to do well! I learned a lot about Enterprise’s working environment and noticed how most of the employees started as management trainees – so they really had a found respect for what interns do.
The awards ceremony itself in Canary Wharf was such an amazing experience and the presentation by Fiona Bruce was really inspiring. I had never been to anything like it. As the winner, I was presented my award by Khaled Shabo, Corporate VP and MD for UK and Ireland who has contributed enormously to the success of Enterprise-Rent-a-Car.
I will undergo my USA trip next summer in the global HQ for Enterprise-Rent-a-Car!  ERAC have also asked me to be their Campus Brand Manager this year, which has been a great experience so far, allowing me to promote their opportunities in careers fairs and to my peers. Since winning the award I have interned in Beijing, China on a scholarship and have had graduate offers based on my achievement, so it has really brought me far and was definitely worth the application!

“You have to be in it to win it” is a phrase we’re all very familiar with but very few of us take it seriously. One piece of advice I would give after this experience is to have some faith in yourself and go for it! It was worth it for me, it might just be for you too. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Do yourself proud! Martin talks of how there's nothing to lose when applying for the Undergraduate of the Year Awards

I was just finishing some January assignments at University and had a free afternoon where I thought I would apply. I always wanted to apply, and the Department of Economics at Warwick sent around emails encouraging us to do so, but I was not quite sure which category to go for and didn’t have too much time to look into it but once the assignments were out of the way, I concluded that the Future CFO category best-suited my skillset. Not only that, but the prize – a trip around Europe! – looked incredible!

After answering three competency questions, we had four online tests to do. These were quite hard, especially given the time pressures, but ultimately if I wasn’t very good at analysing pie charts or answering the other numerical/logical tests, then I wouldn’t make a very good CFO anyway! So it was a very good test and one which tells you a lot about yourself.

Soon after, I got an email from ACCA inviting me to the next round: record yourself in a one-minute video outlining your views on Brexit! This was something I had done a lot of research in, and understandably had a lot of interest in given I study economics, so I was very happy to do so, but there were still some nerves knowing you have to record yourself on camera!

Amazingly I got through to the next round: a debate with an MP furthering our views on Brexit from what we outlined in the video. This was a superbly well-run event and given the calibre of students I was so pleased to be able to share the room with these people and give my inputs.

Whatever the outcome, I knew I had done myself proud with my research and met some fantastic people who I could learn a lot from, but it was then amazing to get the email telling me I had got through to the final!

I was so excited for this event, as were my University! After a long, but ultimately very fun and interactive, selection process, this was a day for us to mingle and get to know other incredible like-minded people. It was such an incredible opportunity to get here, to meet Fiona Bruce, to meet other ACCA professionals and to build my network with other students from different degree fields. The three-course meal was fantastic, and whilst I did not win, I was super pleased for the eventual winner and I know I walk away from the competition much better placed in terms of the graduate job market with this to my CV, and also with an ever-increasing network built.

My advice is clear: apply! I walked away so proud of myself – I knew I didn’t let myself down and couldn’t have done much better – so there is nothing to lose, be yourself and utilise every opportunity in life to make yourself stand out – and this is one of the best ones to take!

A journey full of experiences and rewards: Luisa's Undergraduate of the Year story

The Final event was in the Winter Gardens in Canary Wharf, filled with 120 of the brightest and most high achieving undergraduates, and every single one was reminded of their excellence by each speaker on stage. I was sitting amongst those 120 undergraduates, having been shortlisted to win the female undergraduate award. Every now and again I would experience a wave of insecurity because I could not understand how I managed to get through to this last stage. I do not think I realised the significance of these awards until I was there, surrounded by so many incredible students and company sponsors.
The entire journey, from sending in my CV and completing the first online psychometric tests to the final event, was the most challenging but also most rewarding journey I have embarked and looking back at it I would recommend anyone with the least bit of ambition to apply for one of the TargetJobs awards. 
I experienced a two-day assessment centre (which is not very common), but it raised my confidence and helped me prepare in the best way possible for any future assessments I will face. We had to do group assessments, presentations, interviews, write individual reports but we were also taken round the incredible sites of Rolls Royce in Derby, whereby we learnt more about the company. I was offered a summer internship with Rolls Royce despite of not having won the award itself, but that was because they spotted potential in me during the application process. I got to spend a day in Canary Wharf and take a selfie with Fiona Bruce. But most importantly, I made more than 119 new valuable contacts from several industry fields, who will certainly in future become some of the most influential leaders of our time. I also got to speak to high level managers and executives from Rolls Royce who all shared about their own career paths and gave me valuable tips. 
About mid way through this journey I started to see it less as a competition and more as a networking opportunity. I experienced the beauty of encouragement and the importance of supporting one another in our successes because there is much more value in celebrating each other than putting each other down.
As you can see, it was all in all a hard process but I got much more out of it than I had asked for.

You never know what might happen or how far you might come. If you never try you will never succeed.