1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
During placement, you are a member of an audit team carrying out testing of a client's financial statements during busy season January - April). The role will expand with each placement as you have more knowledge and experience. Hours are anything from 9-5 to a 12 or 13 hour day. Be prepared for a lot of work with excel to perform audit procedures. Most people would tell you the work itself is not that interesting and the hours are tough but I think you have to remember that not many people get the opportunity for work experience at this level during their degree and the hours are only this long during the busy season, the rest of the year 9-5 is the norm.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I can't stress enough how beneficial it is to be able to apply theoretical understanding to a practical environment so soon after learning it. In a normal accounting degree you might learn something in first year and start doing it when you get a graduate job 3 years later. With this programme you gain knowledge and apply it 3 months later. It helps so much in understanding the material and preparing you for exams.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
To me, compared to a lot of similar programmes, I think PwC's Flying Start scheme really stands out. In many ways the programme has exceeded my expectations and I think the PwC working culture is a lot more inclusive and less corporate than similarly sized organisations.
4. How valued do you feel by PwC?
PwC make a real effort to make you feel a valued member of staff and on each team you are a member of. I always felt that the manager on my jobs valued my input and good work was always recognised.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
PwC make a real effort to organise and structure the programme suitably and the training and preparation pre-placement is excellent. I believe splitting the work placements throughout the degree works much better than a traditional 'sandwich' course. The only downside I would say is the firm don't make much effort to allocate you to clients where you have an interest in their industry. For instance, you might want to work for hedge fund and private equity clients but the firm will just stick you with insurance clients. Once they've done that it can be quite difficult to move away from that industry.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My tutor at Reading and all of my lecturers are easily contactable at any point throughout the year, including on placement and I regard the level of support from the university as extremely high.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
PwC make supporting staff a priority and Flying Start students are no exception. I had access to a previous Flying Start as a 'buddy', a People Manager, university lecturers, and my in-charge and manager on my audit team so I felt I could speak to anyone about any problems I had, whatever their nature.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The salary is £18,000 a year, pro rata for your placement period. A lot of my friends have been able to save a fair amount of their salary as the accommodation costs are all paid for by the firm. The only downside is the pay is less than a graduate starting salary even though placement students are supposed to be doing equivalent level work.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The firm put on numerous social events throughout the year and Flying Start students are fully included in this, being allocated to a social group throughout placement. PwC do make a not insignificant financial contribution to the cost of running these events as well.
9. Would you recommend PwC to a friend?
For me, this degree represents a wonderful opportunity for anyone who knows they want to be a Chartered Accountant or work in finance. It is the quickest way to qualify, with one of the leading firms worldwide and the work experience is incredibly valuable. PwC co-ordinate excellently with the university and the level of support from all sides is brilliant.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to PwC?
Do your research thoroughly before you attend your assessment day and make sure you can explain articulately why you want to be a member of the scheme and what you can offer PwC. Be yourself and relaxed on the assessment day and make sure you have commercial awareness that you can talk about.
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