Tag Archives: University

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… Read this post

Filling the Gap

If you take anything from reading the blogs on this site, one message should seep through everything we write, that is: proactivity pays. For users of this site, my advice in terms of applications is always to be proactive and get in there early. I applied for my role at Grant Thornton on the day that the applications opened in August 2009. I started in January 2011, nearly two and a half years later.

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My Journey from Intern to Employee

Hi, I’m Toby

I loved university, my three years at the University of East Anglia were some of the best of my life. The friends I met and the memories I have will last a lifetime. Summer days sitting in the square or down by the lake, Saturday nights in the Student Union, spending time with mates and even lectures are remembered with fondness.

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Introducing a New Team Member – Molly

Hi everyone, I’m Molly and I’m the nearly-newest member of the Spilling the Beans team. I’m really excited to answer anyone’s questions so that I can help you make the right decision.

The big decision for me was university vs work. I had found myself floating down the path of university application, just because that felt like the natural thing to do. My heart wasn’t in it, but I didn’t know what other options there were.

As I didn’t take Accounting at A-Level I missed out on seeing the presentations that trainees like me hold at local sixth forms, however I was lucky enough to have a friend tell me all about the presentations. I now find when I go to local sixth forms that students from various classes take the time to come and see our presentations. I think it is important to realise that you do not have to have taken Accounting at college or university in order to become a trainee at Grant Thornton, as the training provided both in work, and at college is completely sufficient, providing you are keen to learn.

My best tip when applying is to research, research and research. It’s important to know all you can about Grant Thornton, and also about the other firms out there, so that you can be sure you are making the right decision, and be able to portray why this is the perfect path for you in your interview.

The reason this was the perfect path for me was primarily avoiding the university debts. I also loved the fact that this was a fast-track approach to becoming a chartered accountant; as you qualify a year younger as a school leaver than if you joined as a graduate. I really love the AAT qualification (read my AAT blog to find out more) as I feel that it is a solid stepping stone to the ACA/ACCA and provides a really strong knowledge base for accounting. Another advantage of this job is that you have the chance to meet a range of different and remarkable people, both clients and colleagues. As an auditor at Grant Thornton you have the chance to work with different teams on a regular basis in vastly different locations, giving variety to the working day. A perk of working for a firm of this size is opportunities available. For example, I have had the fantastic opportunity to be involved in Spilling the Beans only a year into my training – something which a smaller firm may not have the capacity for, and that at a larger firm I may not have the time or support for.

If you’re thinking about joining please do make the most of the Spilling the Beans team as we are always happy to help answer any queries you may have. As with all team members, you can follow me on twitter @GT_Molly.

The Summer Internship

Hi, I’m Liam and this summer I completed a six week internship working mainly in commercial audit from Grant Thornton’s Bristol office. I also had the opportunity to spend time in the commercial tax, corporate finance and public sector audit departments, as well as working from the Cardiff office for one week.

At the moment I’m in my fourth year studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Warwick. I get asked a lot why I chose to work for an accountancy firm and, at the time, I applied because I was interested in business from modules at university and reading newspapers. I also enjoy watching TV shows like Dragons Den; which I think really demonstrates how important understanding the numbers is for a business.

I’d considered other business and finance careers, but chose accountancy because of the chance to study for the ACA qualification and the opportunity to work closely with clients. Grant Thornton stood out to me because they work mainly with medium sized businesses and promised a greater variety of work than some of the larger firms.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed and from my second day I was out completing real work on a client site. Each week I was with a different client and was involved in most sections of the audit. It surprised me how independently I was expected to work and towards the end of my internship I was responsible for entire sections of the audit. The fieldwork was normally led by a second or third year trainee, making it really easy for me to ask lots of questions without feeling silly. All of my work was of course thoroughly checked and everyone was encouraged to share feedback at the end of a job.

The open plan office at Bristol made it easy to talk to the managers and I felt a real effort was made to fully involve me with the department. Working in audit, however, does mean you can sometimes feel like a stranger in the office, but I personally enjoyed working in a small team and visiting clients.

There were of course aspects I found difficult, such as getting up early to catch a train to Cardiff and working with detailed spreadsheets. However, I was grateful to have the opportunity to work with clients in a different city and enjoyed being engaged by the work.

At the end of my internship I was fortunate to secure a graduate position with the audit team. My summer with Grant Thornton was a brilliant experience and I’m really looking forward to starting with the firm next year.

If you have any questions please post on the Facebook page. I’m also the Campus Ambassador at Warwick this year and am really looking forward to hopefully meeting some of you at our events.

Joining Grant Thornton – before and after

I joined Grant Thornton last Tuesday as a graduate trainee in the Actuarial department, based in our London Finsbury Square office. Last week was a busy week with a local orientation in my department followed by Talent12. However, my journey with Grant Thornton began long before Talent12.

Back in October 2010 I attended a careers fair at Manchester University, where I was studying Maths. After endlessly traipsing around careers fairs, a familiar feeling for soon-to-be graduates, I reflected upon the companies that I had met and for me, Grant Thornton stood head and shoulders above the rest. The people I met seemed so enthusiastic and excited about their job, and that’s exactly how I wanted to feel when talking about my own job in the future. I decided Grant Thornton was the perfect firm for me, if only they would have me!

I managed to secure myself a place on the summer internship programme in 2011 and subsequently a graduate role. I felt so lucky to have a graduate job already secured for after my final year of university. Having this weight off my shoulders I decided to take on the campus ambassador role. This involved promoting campus events around the University of Manchester (incidentally, putting posters up around the whole university was probably the most exercise I’d done all year) as well as organising a Christmas careers evening, which was basically an excuse for us all to get in the festive mood with an abundant supply of mulled wine and mince pies!

So after a fantastic final year of university, and an exciting summer spent living well beyond my means (trying to make the most of my last ever three month long summer break), here I am, just over a week into my career with Grant Thornton.

The last week or so has been a whirlwind of meeting new people, taking office inductions and trying to get used to waking up at 6.30am every morning, a time of day I haven’t seen in an extremely long time. But what has stood out the most was the Talent12 national induction. Around 230 new starters at Grant Thornton descended upon London for the two day event, which involved giving us trainees a clear understanding of the firm’s brand promise and the direction the firm is heading. There were inspiring talks from members of the firm’s National Leadership Board and workshops to help us understand our part to play in the firm’s strategy. Having said this, Talent12 certainly wasn’t all work. In the evening, we got on board a huge boat and cruised along the River Thames, sipping champagne, enjoying a delicious three course meal and making use of the free bar and time to meet other new starters from different offices and departments. The key thing that I took away from Talent12 is a strong understanding of the brand promise. What struck me most was how much the firm must value its employees, considering the amount of time, effort and money that must have gone into organising such a brilliant event. I will certainly look back on those two days with fond memories.

And what’s next? In the coming months I am looking forward to learning more about my new job as an Actuarial Analyst and continuing my involvement with the Manchester alumni team. The role of the Manchester campus ambassador has been passed on to an intern from this summer’s intake, but I will continue to be involved in the organising, promoting and attendance of careers events at the university. I am excited at the prospect of meeting bright new talent and encouraging them to join the firm as I believe this will be a major driving force if Grant Thornton is to continue to grow and flourish.

So, although I have only just begun my career here at Grant Thornton, I feel that my part to play within the firm began long before, and has already presented me with a fantastic array of opportunities and unique experiences. I already feel as though I belong here.

Introducing our other new member: Phil

Hi everyone, my name is Phil. Like Natalie I have recently joined the Spilling the Beans team and am looking forward to sharing my perspective on life as a trainee with Grant Thornton in the Leeds office. I know the site gave me a really helpful insight when I was filling out applications for a training contract and hopefully it will be equally useful for you guys when it comes to making that all-important decision.

As Natalie has talked a bit about her experiences before joining the firm, I thought I would take the opportunity to do the same. I also bring a slightly different perspective, having joined Grant Thornton as a school leaver but also having had a brief university experience. As I’ve touched on in my team profile (which, by the way, is useful for finding out about the people answering your questions) I decided to leave my accountancy degree course at Newcastle after about 3 months. Now given the city’s reputation for nightlife and all-round social scene you are probably wondering why!

During my final year of A levels, I’ll admit to having some doubts about whether I wanted to go to university at all, a decision nearly all 17/18 year olds have to contend with. However I knew that an accountancy career was what I wanted to pursue and, like many people, assumed a graduate route was the way to go. Fast forward a few months and I found that, whilst enjoying the theoretical side of the subject, I wasn’t really seeing how it all fitted together.

The phrase ‘putting the theory into practice’ is something most people will be familiar with after 15 years or so of a classroom education, but it certainly rings true in the world of business and professional services. Having been with the firm for just under a year now, the key thing is to be able to have a conversation with clients about the issues they face and how we can form solutions to problems. So whilst the technical knowledge is important to the day-to-day role, it is definitely about the way you convey that knowledge in the context of a client query that leads to results.

A quick internet search highlighted the school leaver entry route, which seemed to have the balance I was looking for. The decision was therefore made to move back home and apply for such positions, effectively taking the rest of the year as a gap year. I was fortunate enough to get through to an interview for the Grant Thornton Leeds Audit team in February 2011 and eighteen months on here I am!

It was an instinctive decision for me that, in hindsight, has proved to be a good move. I’ve gained work experience alongside professional study and still had the independence of living away from home, moving from Manchester to take up the job. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t go to university if you think this is the career path for you; as with anything weigh up the pros and cons as you see them, but trusting your instincts shouldn’t see you go too far wrong.

So that’s a bit more about my background. Whatever yours is, please feel free to post any questions on the forum and we will do our very best to answer them.

Successful Applicants Meet the Team

Last week, Warwick students with offers from Grant Thornton, were invited to a New Joiners event at the recently opened Glasshouse in Leamington spa.
Organised by one of our soon-to-be graduate trainees, Nick Leese, a group of us from one of the London offices met the potential new graduates over some canapes and cocktails in a relaxed

Having attended employer events in the past, and knowing how intimidating it can be for some students, I realised how the setup of this event would make Grant Thornton stand out as a firm: The use of a cocktail making class acted as a great ice breaker and ensured that the potential new graduates felt relaxed and welcome.

And sure enough, once the drinks were flowing, the students started becoming more forth-coming with their questions: Why did you choose Grant Thornton? Do you have to come from an accounting background to succeed? What does an audit actually involve? Did you consider other career options? How much control do you have over your career?

One particular question that stood out was “I have seen loads on the website about how Grant Thornton trainees get loads of responsibility and exposure. Is this really true? Have you got any examples?”. Apart from mentioning the open plan office, the variety of clients and secondment opportunities, I was able to draw upon my own experience as a new graduate to illustrate Grant Thornton’s unique culture: During my first three weeks at work, I was involved in a pitch for the audit of an international insurance group. In the process, I not only met a senior tax partner, two senior audit partners and the 2009 “Jaguar Women of the Year”, Sacha Romanovitch (our head of People and Skills), I was also given exposure to the pitching process and the work that partners do ? not an everyday occurrence!

As midnight approached, the four of us continued to pass on our knowledge of the firm and its unique position in the market. Feedback from the students was very positive and suggested that this type of event is hitting the right notes: informative yet friendly, professional yet relaxed. Given the quality of the attendees, it seems that the future is bright!

Congratulations to all those with offers. See you in September!

Events Week at Durham University

Last week was a pretty busy one for Grant Thornton at Durham University. Mo, Eloise and Declan attended the finance forum at Stockton Campus, with assurance partner Andy Wood participating in the panel for the afternoon’s discussions.

Later in the week, a team of six of us, keen to revisit Durham and remember the good old days of studenthood, ventured from the four corners of the country to host a couple more events. The first of these, was the union society debate. As sponsors of the event, we were fortunate enough to be invited to attend a dinner with the speakers before the debate. The dinner was delicious and the conversation fascinating.

The motion of ‘This House fears Facebook’ was then articulately and engagingly debated by the four talented speakers: Jeremy Vine of the BBC, Willard Foxton of the Huffington Post, Dr Bernard Trafford of Newcastle Royal Grammar School and James Ball of the Guardian.

When opened to comments from the floor, it became increasingly clear how divided the room was, with interesting and valid points raised on both sides. Opposition raised concerns over lack of privacy and cyber bullying. Meanwhile the proposition highlighted the importance of access to information and the individual’s freedom to post or not post information. The definition of ‘fear’ was also the subject of much discussion. The final vote was close but it would seem overall Durham students were persuaded that Facebook was something to ‘like’, not to fear.

As you would expect, the debate then moved onto the bar!

The following day, the six of us rose to reports of expected heavy snow. Nonetheless, unfazed by the cold and wind (as former Durham students, we have seen much worse), we ventured out for the final event of the week.

We hosted a lunch for candidates from Durham who have made significant progress through the application process, along with a few friends. There was an impressive spread laid on for the 22 of us whilst we answered queries and chatted about life after Durham, being at Grant Thornton and working in our specific departments.

We really enjoyed meeting everyone who is looking to come and work with us and hope we were able to expose some myths, provide some answers for you and encourage you that Grant Thornton is the place you want to be!

Life as a Grant Thornton Campus Ambassador

Hi, I am Amy and I am part of the Manchester University campus alumni team for Grant Thornton.

My role within the team is the campus ambassador. I was an audit intern over the summer at the Milton Keynes office and I was asked to represent Grant Thornton at university. In addition, I was lucky enough to be offered a job for when I finish my degree next summer.

My ambassador role involves promoting and attending Grant Thornton careers events, competitor research and creating a campus intelligence report. I suppose I am like a link between students in Manchester and Grant Thornton. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get involved in this way, as I am on the same wavelength as the students applying to internships/graduate programmes. I am hopefully able to give really helpful hints and up to date advice that will be valuable to prospective candidates.

As well as me, there are seven others in the Manchester Alumni team, which has grown from just four people in the last year. The other members in the team are employees at Grant Thornton who used to be students at Manchester. There is a real mix of people, from audit, tax, business risk and now me in actuarial . The breadth of experience is great, as we are in a good position to answer most questions that students ask.

The first event we did this year in Manchester was the Pizza night at a swanky bar on Deansgate locks, which was a great success. It was fantastic to see so many keen students who seemed really enthusiastic about the firm. The free drink and pizza was obviously a massive bonus, especially for students like me. Having some nice wine for once was really appreciated, and there was definitely the odd student who made the most of the free bar, but who can blame them!

We have also been attending all appropriate careers fairs that the University holds. The first one I helped out at was in my faculty, the Maths department. It went well and I suppose the fact that we ran out of our brochures within two hours suggests it was pretty successful.

In early December I organised an event for 18 students at Manchester who have received offers from Grant Thornton, or are in the final few stages of the application process. It was a great way for everyone to get to know each other a little before joining, and will hopefully make their first day at Grant Thornton seem less daunting! We had a buffet, mince pies and mulled wine to help everyone get into the Christmas spirit. It was a lovely evening and the applicants that I spoke to afterwards said that they really enjoyed talking to fellow applicants as well as Grant Thornton staff from a range of departments.

I must say I could not have done it without the help of the rest of the Manchester team, they have been an incredible help.

So it has been a busy semester so far, but it is going brilliantly and I have really enjoyed being involved. We have had plenty of top quality applications, and I hope that many were inspired to apply because of the great efforts of the Manchester Alumni team!

It is now time for me to focus on my January exams (unfortunately). But next semester we have a Times Top 100 Campaign to prepare for and hopefully some careers workshops to organise amongst other activities. So we have busy but exciting times ahead, and I will keep you posted on any more campus activity in Manchester!