1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I have just completed my first year as a Tech Degree Apprentice at PwC. Each year, different groups of us will rotate around the different departments, but this year, I was given the role as a Consultant. Although I am based in Belfast, this summer my 10 week placement was based in a clients office in London. This was a large construction company called Mace, who are implementing a new CRM/ERP/HCM central system, to better manage their business. Oracle Cloud was selected as the preferred system to develop the system and although I have no experience in this, I was not expected to be able to understand everything and was introduced to it as a complete beginner. They tried to tailor my workload to suit topics that I have been working on in my first year of University such as Web Services, and i have really enjoyed this. Asides from the work, i have really enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends in the office who often organised social events for us all to go to. The best part had to be experiencing living/working in London for 10 weeks, and as all costs of accommodation, food and travel were covered i had no worries and was very well looked after. I cannot wait to try another department next year, and if it comes anywhere near as rewarding as consulting was then i expect I'll be very happy.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Yes!! As i said, the employees within Mace tried to tailor my work so that i could expand on some of the skills that i have developed this year in University. A lot of my time was taken up working on Web Service problems, and trying to automate certain tasks for the employees that would save them a lot of time. Although we had done a significant amount of Web Development in University, this work was completely new and refreshing as i was solving real world problems for people, and i got to learn how to use a new Web API program called SoapUI to solve and automate many of the problems i ran into.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I am in love with the programme i have chosen and i couldn't have been any luckier to get chosen as one of the select few to experience it. PwC make sure you are working on projects that interest you, which i think is a huge benefit and important to make sure all their employees are motivated. I love how each year of my program will present new challenges as we move around the different departments, trying to decide where in the business we would like to be situated in once we complete the program.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As we were the first year of the program, i think there were a few teething problems. None of these problems are ongoing problems as they have fixed them as we have went along and i expect they will be well ironed out before the next batch of Apprentices join. Some of these organisational problems involves us Consultants not knowing we would be working in London/Milton Keynes for the whole summer until 3 days before we left, but as the business was covering everything it was not a huge deal. For the structure, i think it couldn't be any better. I love how as apprentices, we still get to experience the normal University life for 2 years along with our friends and don't miss out on anything. On top of this, we still get paid throughout the years so we do not need part time jobs that could distract us and get in the way of our degree throughout the year. By the time our 2 final years come around, we have 2 longer 6 month placements which I am looking forward to, and as well as, our salary increases also!!
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
PwC provide so much support. Within the Belfast office, we are all assigned a buddy from our very first day who can deal with all kinds of questions, including those 'stupid' questions you may feel embarrassed to ask higher up employees such as managers. They are there to help throughout your placement and PwC usually try to make sure they are closer in age to yourself, to make you feel more comfortable. As well as this, PwC provide you with a Career Coach, who is a higher up member of staff who will meet with you at multiple points throughout your placement to discuss and set goals and make sure you are reaching them. This is important to let them know all the positives and negatives of your placement included what you do and do not enjoy, to help the business select somewhere more suitable for the coming year.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Throughout the year, our University Course is provided by Queens University. You don't hear much from PwC during the year as they let you enjoy being a student and living a normal life. Within the Uni there is lots of support, you once again have a Buddy, who in my case was my programming lecturer, who you can arrange to meet at anytime throughout the year when you have any problems. As well as this, all lecturers provide you with their email to message them with any problems you happen to run into with their work.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
Before this year, i had no programming experience whatsoever. Now since September, i have been learning to code in Java and because of this, in my role this summer i was allowed to try fix some of our Web API problems using Java. Although i would say I am still at quite a basic level in terms of programming, in another 3 years, i expect that the many project s i get to work on will provide me with more than enough experience to have a good grip with most of the work im presented with in my role.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
Yes! My work at Mace organises social events for the whole team for when a milestone is reached. For example they are currently planning an evening where they go for drinks in a Mini Golf centre which could be very exciting. As well as this, by just making friends in the office, many smaller groups organises evening activities, whether its just going for food and drinks or going to a football match, there are always things to get involved in!
9a. Would you recommend PwC to a friend?
I already have! What is there not to love? Complete the degree that you wanted to do, but they pay your tuition fees, have a regular student life, with summer placements lined up and a salary throughout the year and a possible job offer at the end of your experience. As my Careers teacher in school said when i told him i was accepted - It's a No Brainer!
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to PwC?
They interview process can be very competitive but don't be phased ,you are all in the same position. PwC will not be marking you based on all the knowledge you already have as everyone will be learning from scratch in University. Just be yourself, sound confident and be interested in the course and you'll do just fine and remember to have to questions to ask your interviewer! Good Luck!!
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