Role: Assurance Associate

Company: PriceWaterHouseCoopers LLP

Degree: Accounting and Finance

University: University of Surrey


Q. Did you receive any formal training before starting your job at PwC? What were the key skills that you have learned during your training?

We received a week long induction to the firm which got us familiar with the organisation, its structure and the types of opportunities that were available to us. On day one we had the opportunity to mix and network with some 500 PwC graduates from around the country. The training throughout the week involved a lot of interactive presentations and group exercises to allow graduates to get to know each other better whilst working as a team and familiarising us with how the firm functioned, the week ended with an office integration day.

Week two of training was more related to our specific role, if you were studying for a professional qualification- like me, we were introduced to the learning program whilst meeting and integrating with staff around the office. At PwC we have a planned and organised personal development plan which is set out for each individual form the outset. The firm prioritises learning and development of its people as a key objective. You’re learning experience is broken down into a 70:20:10 ratio- 70% of your time you will be learning from doing through on the job experiences and tasks, 20% of your time is spent learning form others and getting and discussing feedback. The final 10% is through formal learning, which consists of attending training programs, workshops and conferences as well as your own personal research and learning. I personally found the group exercises and on the job learning are the most fun parts of the personal development journey. The more formal trainings can sometimes contain a lot of information to read through and take in!


Q. Describe in brief what happened on your first day at work?

The first day in the office was extremely exciting for me! PwC’s offices at More London overlook Tower Bridge and form the fifth floor of the office I have a breath taking view to take in every time I look up! To see that on the first day was slightly surreal.  I spent most of the first day meeting the departmental staff you will be spending most of your time with. The first few days in the office doesn’t require you to be an automatic whizz at everything. People around the department know you are a new face and are willing to help you with just about anything!

Spend your time asking people lots of questions on your first few days – This is always a great tip because as a new joiner you’re first few days you have a literal free pass to fire questions at anyone! My schedule for the day consisted of a lot of group meetings and introductions to the office, the department and the PwC culture. The most fun part of the day was introducing myself and what I had learnt about the firm over the past week of induction sessions- as a group of five new joiners we did a role play exercise in form of the department, acting out the whole process of being a new joiner and finding our feet at the firm. It was very well received- remember most people have been in your situation before and are very understanding of you being in a new environment. Always try and leave a good impression on your first day- first impressions count!


Q. Did your first week on the job change your initial expectations of Assurance

As a graduate you are eased into the role – don’t expect to be out with clients from day one! For the first whole month you will spend most of your time in the office doing a lot of personal development, training and setting up of various things. Expect to spend a significant amount of time on mandatory training and online compliance course. These are extremely beneficial in providing you with the vital information that you need in order to succeed within the firm- they can also however be quite long and tiring to go through, so pace yourself well! The highlight of my first week on the job was to meet clients and talk to them as well as understand their business – my advice here is to let people know you are a new joiner, so that they do not expect too much of you and in fact are more willing to help. A lot of the work that you will pick up in your first week won’t be the most important and critical tasks, but are essential none the less. Always prioritize your workload and ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner and you will do great!


Q. Most embarrassing incident on your first week?

On a training course I was last to turn up at the session – and although I was not late I had to play charades with the rest of the group. The title of the movie given to me by the training coordinator was Broke Back Mountain. Hilarious, but embarrassing!


Q. Imagine one of your friends was starting in Assurance graduate scheme at PwC, what advice would you give him/her?

Always seek out opportunities. The firm is huge so if you do not seek out opportunities, do not expect them to fall onto your plate. I would also advise anyone joining a large corporate firm to be focused on the work that is required of you and to not be too complacent with the type of tasks that you are asked to perform- you have to start somewhere.


Q. Which task made you most nervous during your first week of work?

You should never feel nervous about any task in your first few weeks. People around the office know that you are new and are willing to help; all you have to do is ask!


Q. Any great perks/benefit in the office?

The great thing about the office is that the environment is very comfortable and conducive towards you being optimised to perform your work at the best of your ability. The biggest benefit of the office is that you can grab a coffee and meet so many people from all levels of the firm just working around or sitting on the desk next to you! Not to mention if you are lucky enough to secure a position in the More London office- the view is amazing.


Q. What did you enjoy the most during your first week at PwC?

I enjoyed meeting the other graduates and networking within the firm particularly. PwC is a huge network of like-minded individuals united around a common goal and aim- to do the right thing for our clients, our people and our communities. Meeting a lot of people who share a common aim and goal as you is extremely exciting!


Q. What is the thing that you dislike the most about your job?

There isn’t any specific part of my role or the firm that I do not like. My advice to graduates would be to ensure that you are ready for the time commitment that a job at the firm would entail. There are times when you will be required to put in those extra few hours to meet that looming deadline, be prepared!


Q. Top tip for your friend facing a final round interview, could you share it with us please?

Be yourself. I cannot emphasise this enough, being genuine and honest about your achievements and experiences and what you like and dislike really lets you stand out from the run of the mill candidate who says what they think needs to be heard. By reaching the final interview stage you already have jumped most of the hurdles. Be proud of who you are and what you have achieved to get to the final stage of the process, if you are confident it will really come through. So my tip for passing that final hurdle: be yourself, be confident and be professional.


Q. Do you often have après work drinks with your colleagues? Have you got any interesting stories from your work outings you would like to share with us?

The social aspect of work drinks is great! Always be sure to meet your colleagues for a drink – or if you don’t drink go along for a chat. Outside of the work place you will find that people tend to be a lot more comfortable, open and you get to see a whole new side of them. Just be weary of not over doing it – talking about how many cars you crashed whilst racing in a foreign country is a NO NO!


Q. Three words to describe your first impressions.

Friendly. Professional. Challenging.