1. What is your current position?
Audit Assistant, KPMG
2. How far in advance of your planned starting date did you begin looking for jobs?
3. How did you learn about your current position?
Research – when I decided to leave scientific research (I was doing a PhD before my current job), I made lists of what I did like about science research/ academia, what I didn't like, what I wanted from a job that I felt was missing in my current role and a list of things I wanted to avoid in a career. I came up with audit.
4. Were any resources (inside or outside your university) particularly helpful in your job search?
Graduate career websites and company websites were useful. I didn't look into university resources – as a post grad student at an Institute that felt only loosely affiliated to a university, I never even thought of it to be honest!
5. What was your work or educational background before you were hired?
I was doing a cell biology research degree (PhD)
6. Which aspects of your background (postdoctoral training, internships, etc.) were required for your position?
Only my undergraduate – my PhD was irrelevant!!
7. How long after your interview did you start your position? Were there any barriers to starting your position when you'd hoped (e.g. lack of space or funding available, time to secure appropriate visa)?
I started 11 months after my interview.
8. Was your mentor supportive of your career choice?
Not particularly – she didn't want me to leave science and thought I would regret it. However she did respect my decision.
9. How would you describe the interview process and how did you prepare for it? Were there any skills or experiences in your CV that seemed to stand out?
There were several stages to the interview process: 1. Online basic info (qualifications etc) to check I met the requirements, 2. Online maths, verbal reasoning and situational judgement tests. 3. Telephone interview, 4. Assessment centre day at the office (several tasks – role play, in tray exercise), 5. Interview with senior management.
10. Had you seriously pursued other positions or career paths prior to being hired? If so, what factors led to your ultimate job choice?
11. Has your career trajectory followed the path you'd expected when you started graduate school?
When I began my PhD, I had assumed I would stay in research and aspire to be a Group leader. I realized after 2 years that research and the academic structure was not for me and so I searched for something that was. I have been in my current job 8 months and, so far, I am incredibly happy with my decision.
12. Was anything about your job not what you'd expected before you were hired?
I can't remember what I expected to be honest – I am not sure I knew what to expect. I have certainly found it as interesting as I hoped. Perhaps more so! And I have been very happy to find the company is friendly and supportive, whilst still being challenging and demanding. I have been surprised with the access and contact you have with senior management, even as a new joiner. This is a fantastic learning opportunity.
13. Are there any skills or experiences you wish you'd had before you started?
I think you can always wish you are better equipped with skills and experiences, but the point is you are always learning. You can never have all the experiences and skills you need and I am lucky in that my job is very much a think on your feet one, so if you are resourceful you can cope even if you don't know the answer (you just need to know where to be able to find someone who does!!)
14. How do you spend an average workday?
In a client office, at my computer, talking to our clients, talking to my colleagues, in meetings (conference calls and face to face)
15. What do you most like about your work?
The diversity (in colleagues, location in addition to the work itself), the challenge, meeting and working with a variety of people, the opportunity for career development and progression.
16. What do you find the most challenging about your work?
The fact I never know the answer! But this is also the most interesting part.
17. What skills do you think are absolutely essential for your position?
Confidence to ask questions and deal with awkward clients.
18. Do you think it helps to have a certain personality to do the work you do?
I think you need to be willing and vocal enough to put yourself forward for things and to be up for and enthusiastic about taking on any task (no matter how dull – someone's got to do it!).
19. Are there any traits that would make it difficult to succeed in your position?
Lack of flexibility and a dislike of never knowing where you will be working, with whom and on what – if you like a set routine and set working hours then it probably is a nightmare career for you.
20. What advice would you give to someone looking for a position like yours?
I would say apply early, be confident and be yourself – if you have an interest in business, are genuinely interested in learning new things and can think logically and critically, it is a great career for you. Oh – and be willing to spend another 3 years doing exams (you have to qualify as a chartered accountant to be a qualified auditor), which is tough (I didn't think I would still be revising by the time I was 28, which I will be!)