Not all work experience opportunities are marketed online. Undergraduate student, Arian Sadri shares his experience of applying for the ‘hidden jobs’ which secured him a role at a local accountancy firm for the summer.
“A greater risk but a better chance of achieving the reward” were the words from WBS CareersPlus Manager Hilary when speaking about applying for the immense number of vacancies which aren’t always marketed, otherwise known as hidden jobs. As a first year student pursuing BSc Accounting & Finance at WBS, constructive and relevant work experience opportunities at prestigious institutions are not easy to achieve. Many of the work experience opportunities are targeted at penultimate and final year students which leaves first year students primarily being able to apply to spring/insight weeks. These are a series of 2 to 3 day programmes giving students a peek into the workings of corporations with a possibility of getting fast tracked to an internship the following year and eventually earning a graduate job.
A confluence of fierce competition and limited vacancies made rejections inevitable. After being unsuccessful in my attempts at 3 of the Big 4 accountancy firms, I decided to attend a careers drop-in which are held on a regular basis by the WBS CareersPlus team. I was pleasantly surprised by the incisive guidance regarding CVs and vital job market information. But what really stood out was the generosity and support of the team who took the time to understand my predicament and professional interests to offer personalised suggestions on how to increase my likelihood of gaining a work experience placement.
As coronavirus struck, it was soon clear that I would be unable to return to India as I had planned over the summer. With none of my spring week applications being successful, I set about researching local accountancy firms and emailing them my CV and cover letter. I had been advised by the Careers team to invest the time in thoroughly understanding the businesses as well as tailoring my application to each of them. Whilst there was no certainty that they would reply to my applications, it was a start-up accountancy practice named Cheylesmore Accountants which decided to take a chance on me. I was hired as an Assistant Accountant for 2 months.
Despite being just over a month into my role, I have enhanced my skillset through on the job training of cloud accounting software such as Xero which is considered by many organisations as a pre-requisite in the present era of computerised accounting. The family-like culture at the firm has benefited me immensely with steady improvement in my communication skills via frequent engagement with clients through email and having meetings. Being involved from the ground up has enabled me to gauge the varied responsibilities of management and become involved in cross-departmental functions such as HR and Marketing. The internship has also enabled me to complement my theoretical knowledge by understanding the practical aspects of what I learned at WBS, as well as build a strong rapport with my seniors through feedback and participation in social activities organised by the firm.
The learning curve has been steep and each day presents a unique challenge demanding innovative solutions ranging from experimenting with alternative tools on existing software or carrying out a routine operation in countless different forms for hours until the desired outcome is reached. Although painstaking, these are the moments in which I discovered the best in myself by pushing boundaries to meet deadlines and delivering the required results. Yet, there is much to learn and I remain keen on honing my commercial acumen by gaining a deeper understanding of the diverse ways of working amongst clients spanning across numerous industries.
As I prepare to commence my penultimate year at WBS, amidst a pandemic and an increasingly competitive job market, the words of Hilary serve as a sobering reminder of the importance of the hidden jobs market. Many will apply to the corporates and multi-nationals which is perfectly understandable. But given the current climate, one should keep in mind that rejections from these goliaths of the financial services sector does not signal the end of the road. I would strongly advise incoming students to consider taking up an internship or work experience opportunity, paid or unpaid, because ultimately you can’t put a number on the satisfaction gained from working with like-minded individuals and discovering first-hand what world of business is really like.
Our BSc Accounting & Finance course allows you to focus your studies on accounting, finance, or a mixture of both, depending on where your passion lies. Find out more about the course.