Alex’s Corporate Finance Blog – Part 2

In my previous blog I gave you a brief background to our Corporate Finance team, as well as touching on some of my experiences within Lead Advisory and Public Company Advisory.  As recruitment season is well and truly upon us, I will share some of my experiences hunting for a placement, what I think made me successful and how I have been making the most of the opportunity.

The first point worth mentioning is that your university will probably be pushing for you to apply to as many placements as possible. Whilst this scatter gun approach has some benefits, I would offer a word of caution. In my experience there is often an inverse relationship between quantity and quality of applications.  Applying for fifty placements sounds impressive…but the reality is the quality will probably be reduced for each one, in turn reducing the likelihood of securing a placement.  At Grant Thornton we look for students who show a real desire to be part of the firm and the team and this is hard to get across if you are cutting and pasting your answers from a mix of other applications.

Secondly, you can never do enough research. So well done for reading this blog! No, this is not me being all self-centred, but rather it shows that you are taking the time to do some research into a potential employer over and above the cursory glance at the website.  Additional research is crucial and really comes across in interviews.  During the interview process at Grant Thornton I was able to use a variety of resources to emphasise my points, showing a genuine interest in the firm.  Furthermore, pay attention to the details.  This relates both to your application and also to your preparation for interviews.  If a firm has mentioned specific skills they will ask about ensure that you have a number of examples prepared relating to those skills.  If there is a certain feature that is widely mentioned on marketing materials, it is often an achievement that the company is proud of and therefore worth mentioning back to them. 

Finally, think about the real reasons you want to work for that company.  For me, Grant Thornton provided the opportunity to gain a huge amount of exposure to live market transactions and the opportunity to have a meaningful contribution to my team.  If you are genuinely enthusiastic about a job this will come across to your interviewer and if you are not then maybe you should cut that company from your list of potentials and focus on the ones you genuinely want to work for!

Although you are probably aware of the above tips, it is often the simple points that are overlooked and therefore not done so well.  This is just as true for the working world as it is for applications.  So, for the final part I will give a (very) brief run-down of what I have been doing in the couple of months since my last blog.  With the quiet summer months a distant memory away, the weeks are flying by in a whirlwind of client meetings, presentations, proposals and training courses.  I am involved in a number of transactions, working on both buy-side and sell-side lead advisory teams where I have most recently been honing my financial modelling skills.  Far from being used for menial tasks, I am an active member of each team often working directly with just a manager and a partner.  Currently working on four main transactions, I spend approximately 60% of my day analysing the financials of the business, creating documents to take to the market and dealing with the day to day managing of the project.  The remainder of my time is taken up by meetings and doing hot target work such as presentations and research tasks.  There is lots going on and the learning curve is still steeply sloping up, but with three Christmas parties over the next couple of weeks and a barrage of invites to networking events, there will be plenty of chances to have a breather and enjoy some well-deserved, if overpriced, drinks.

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