Student Programs: Do they really connect you to the 'right' career path?

Former ‘Vaccie’ Cindy Feng on how she kickstarted her career, and whether student programs and events are worth the hype.

Cindy Feng is excitedly finishing her final semester of uni. She’s set to come away with a Bachelor of Commerce and Information Systems, and an accepted offer to join our Assurance division as a Grad next year.

After partaking in our Vacation Program, available to all uni students in their second last year of study, Cindy is in a prime position to make a judgement on whether student programs actually give you a genuine insight into future work life. The verdict? Yes, she says, they do! 

“I was able to apply quite a few things that I learned at university, and I realised that Assurance and Auditing was much more than just crunching the numbers and doing debits and credits!”

By applying herself to multiple areas of work within Assurance, Cindy gained first-hand insight into what she did and didn’t enjoy. More importantly, she gauged whether Assurance was the right place for her before committing as a full-time Grad. 

Fortunately for Cindy, and us, Assurance was exactly where she wanted to be. When asked on what helped make the choice easier, Cindy says it was the unique combination of interesting work, diverse people, and the responsibility she was given from the very start.

“I was very fortunate to be placed in a welcoming team with a supportive senior who encouraged me to engage with different aspects of the job. I even got to contribute to tasks that would normally only be completed by senior level employees.”

Specifically, Cindy speaks of a time where she was given the chance to drive a client meeting. Leading talks with a Senior Manager of a client firm is something she describes as a “daunting yet highly rewarding” experience considering she was “a vacationer, not even out of uni yet”. Another memorable day was the one spent shadowing Assurance Partner Rosalie Wilkie.

“Not only was I able to learn a lot through observing her day-to-day life as a Partner, I got to sit next to a prominent CEO during a corporate responsibility luncheon. The experience was so surreal, I’ll definitely remember it for the rest of my life!”

One thing Cindy says she did not expect was the “immense focus” we place on coaching. She had an idea of the level of ‘formal’ training she’d receive, however, found it was the informal guidance that really fostered her in finding her feet. 

“It was the one-on-one, on-the-job training and support provided by my team that really helped me in quickly getting a grasp of my role.”

Further to Cindy’s surprise, was that the support didn’t cease, even after she gained an offer to join our Graduate Program

A highlight for many of our Grads is the Connectivity Event. This is a day dedicated to bringing all Grads together to learn more about our values, get to know their peer group and, above all, celebrate their great educational achievements. Cindy says the day also succeeded in easing pre-work nerves.

“The Connectivity Event helped to dispel some of the myths and worries I had about starting as a Grad. Sue Horlin’s [Partner and Human Capital Leader] opening address about not being afraid to make mistakes as a Grad and advice from other Grads, allowed me to feel more confident in successfully transitioning from uni to work.”

When it comes to advice for students considering student and graduate programs, Cindy encourages seeking out and making the most of every opportunity available to you.

“Whether opportunities take the form of shadowing, engaging with projects you consider daunting and outside of your comfort zone, or even simple gestures such as making an effort talking to people you don’t know within the firm, you will always be able to gain or learn something worthwhile and expected.”

Read more about our Student Careers here

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