Key insight into securing a graduate scheme with PwC

Created on 9 Apr 2021

We recently caught up with Isabella about how she secured a graduate scheme with PwC, how she built her commercial awareness before the interview and her top tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in her footsteps.

What stood out to you about PwC?

As a leading UK and global professional services organisation, the client portfolio at PwC really stood out to me. The scope of business exposure PwC can provide to a graduate is incredibly exciting. From SMEs to FTSE companies across a range of industries, the chance to build up a diverse portfolio working on a range of projects is second to none.

Like many students I joined various online events held by employers during the pandemic but it was the Virtual Park events held by PwC which really enabled me to develop a connection with their people. They always had plenty of team members around to answer any of my questions and I started building professional relationships with the people I spoke to. I was treated as if I were part of their team before I’d even started the application process. As a Mathematics undergraduate, the people culture embodied by PwC enabled me to forget about any sense of imposter syndrome.

How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?

I built my commercial awareness ultimately by doing research and speaking to people. The Bright Network events I took part in facilitated this.

I set out my research to build up a picture of what the industry was like. That meant exploring different firms, different projects and reading multiple case studies and news stories. I found looking into technology trends in audit a particularly interesting way to try to understand the role and how it is developing.

Coming from a non-business background, the key turning point for me in developing my commercial awareness was exploring more generic examples of business strategy and structure. Once I started to look at different business and decision-making models, I could then relate them to articles I was reading and gain not only a better understanding, but also more confidence in my commercial awareness.

What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?

Research! Being yourself is perhaps the top tip, but research is the key to that. If you’ve done plenty of research beforehand, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident meaning being yourself comes much more naturally.

I started out with researching the company, getting a feel for what they do and the services they offer. As you explore this and the values of different firms, you’ll start to find companies that stand out to you and those you feel most suited to.

Then dig deeper into the role you’re applying for, focusing not only on a general overview but what the day-to-day activities may be and current trends that apply to that business area. Detailed knowledge like this gives you more of an idea of what to expect and shows the interviewer that you’re truly interested and understand the role.

Look into any professional qualifications that may be part of the role and explore your choice of office if applicable.

How did Bright Network help you secure this role?

Bright Network hosted a CV webinar which I attended to kickstart my CV writing process. A member of the Bright Network team then reviewed my CV and offered feedback before I began my applications.

The BrightLive Commercial Awareness webinar introduced me to several examples of using a commercial awareness mindset in day-to-day life. I gained a much better understanding of different company strategies and design, as well as tips on how to develop my commercial awareness further.

I also took part in the Finance and Professional Services stream of Internship Experience UK. This experience made the research process for my applications much easier! The highlight for me was the Introduction to Audit talk. A few audit Associates spoke to us about their experiences, in particular, the details about day-to-day work and studying for a professional qualification, introducing us to key terms and testing methods they use. This helped me to get a better sense of what audit entailed, and was perhaps when I realised it was the business area I was most suited to.

What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced and how did you tackle it?

“What worries or scares you the most about starting the role with us?” This question changed the tone of the interview somewhat. Instead of trying to impress the interviewer and putting my best self forward, this question challenged me to show vulnerability and really enabled me to build rapport. It was a reminder that interviewers don’t expect you to be perfect, they just want you to be engaged, enthusiastic and someone they would like to work with. Don’t be afraid to answer honestly! It’s perfectly ok to say that starting as part of a big organisation in a new city, coming from a non-Accountancy degree and studying towards a professional qualification is a little daunting. However, the excitement and opportunities it can bring for a career in audit and the network of people you can work with compensates for this.

What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?

  1. Have confidence in yourself and your achievements so far.
  2. Do your research and be prepared.
  3. Don’t take rejection personally - use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Looking to follow in 's footsteps? Discover live graduate opportunities with PwC.

Bright Network member, Isabella
Isabella, University of Exeter
PwC, Audit Graduate Scheme