We recently caught up with Van about securing a role with Willis Towers Watson, how Internship Experience UK helped them secure their role and how they tackled the toughest interview question they’ve ever faced.
What stood out to you about Willis Towers Watson?
The main appeal of the firm was really the programme on offer and the values of the firm. I think the fact that the graduate programme has a degree of flexibility where I can explore different sectors really appealed to me because it meant that I would be able to develop a wide range of skills and sector knowledge early on in my career.
What prompted you to take part in Internship Experience UK?
I decided to take part in Internship Experience UK because I actually wanted to work in Corporate Risk, which was quite different from the Chemistry degree I was studying for. However, I felt that I had the essential empirical ability, but I just lacked the know-how in terms of applying these skills in the workplace, and so I felt that Internship Experience UK was the stepping stone that helped me bridge the gap between academia and the workplace.
If you could describe Internship Experience UK in one word, what would it be and why?
Eye-opening. Simply because, for me, transitioning into a career that I had no previous experience or academic exposure to, meant that Internship Experience UK allowed me to get a deeper insight into the career I potentially wanted to pursue. I also felt that it helped me identify my own strengths and weakness and essentially identified what skills I needed to improve on to achieve my career aspirations.
What skills and/or tips did you learn from Internship Experience UK?
Aside from some of the technical quantitative and qualitative ability, I think the more important skills that Internship Experience UK helped me develop was time management to a degree I hadn’t previously practised. I think when transitioning into the workplace from university the most difficult challenge is keeping up with day-to-day tasks. So, Internship Experience UK helped me practice balancing my university work with the tasks.
How did you build up your commercial awareness before taking part in Internship Experience UK?
I think it’s all about utilising our advantages as students. For me, my university gave me free subscriptions to sites like the Economist and the Financial Times and just flicking through these whenever I had free time helped me develop my commercial awareness. However, there are also alternatives; many companies have free newsletters you can subscribe to and even Bright Network has commercial awareness newsletters, so I’d say just utilise all the tools available.
What’s been the toughest interview question you’ve faced and how did you tackle it?
I was asked, “In a group setting do you always offer to be the leader?”. And at first, that is quite a daunting question because on the one hand, saying no might indicate that I don’t have the drive to be a leader, whilst saying yes might mean that I like to take control. Instead, my main approach was being authentic and honest by talking through my thoughts of weighing up the pros and cons.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Learn from each application. I’ve found, that especially during interviews, I got more and more comfortable after receiving rejections and learning from the process.
- Treat the in-person interview as a conversation. Take your time, you don’t need to answer immediately and be genuine. My biggest misconception was hoping to answer each question perfectly as if I were giving a speech whereas, in reality, if you’re treating the interview as a two-way conversation, it comes across as more authentic.
- Practice basic and common questions and make yourself feel comfortable in whatever way helps you. One of my greatest challenges was doing video interviews as I felt awkward and unable to express my views. One thing that did help me tackle this was practising and getting comfortable with the environment.