Accountancy Intern based mainly in Group Finance, but also got to experience time in Accounting Policy and Advisory, UK Reporting and the Tax department
The work and tasks given to me were at the correct level for my experience from university and past employment. This made the work more enjoyable as it was equally challenging and rewarding. As expected with every job, there were a few tasks within the internship which I didn't enjoy, mainly due to the dependency on Excel, which I haven't had much exposure to. However, my manager was very forthcoming with help and advice when needed. The internship was structured so I got the opportunity to join 6 different teams within the Finance department, offering a wide range of varied experiences and exposure to many people within the business.
I moved teams a lot within the ten week placement, which meant initially I thought it' be difficult to feel valued within the team. However, as an intern, you're seen as a fresh pair of eyes, which means you're often given a high level/overview of the business, or a process in order to see if there is a more efficient way to do something. There's a great range of people within most teams of younger grad scheme students mixed with those who have been in the company for years. Having this dynamic makes it easy to speak to colleagues who are both older and more experienced.
The internship was structured so I'd have weekly one to ones with my line manager, and then occasional talks with my performance manager throughout if needed. I was in contact most days with my line manager, who also introduced me into the new teams I joined. I was also allocated a buddy, who was on the three year grad placement at the time, It allowed me to chat to her about more informal matters, and I got to hear about her experience of working at Standard Life.
My internship was structured well in advance, so as I joined a new team they'd already have jobs and tasks lined up for me. Initially, I thought it meant the jobs I'd be given were not that relevant to the overall team contribution at the time, or that they were unimportant. However, this was not the case, as these jobs were often ones that were needing to be done, but hadn't been able to be done or ones that needed a fresh pair of eyes. For example, a few of my tasks were related to a competitor review, which meant I gained an understanding of the background of some of the teams I'd joined, and it gave me a great overview of the industry Standard Life navigate in.
A fair deal. My internship in Standard Life was whilst Half Year accounts were being produced, and I was trusted to produce one of the financial notes. Many tasks I was given were assigned deadlines along with reviews from those who had assigned the tasks. During the busy time for the finance team, it meant that there was an attitude of getting the job done right first time, as you were counted on just like any other team member. Even though there were deadlines, I really found it motivating. Also, everyone is so willing to help, and knows you're an intern in a new environment, they'll help you through just like they would a long term colleague!
As I mentioned, I've had little exposure to complicated Excel work at university, and it is such a crucial skill to have within finance. I've had a lot of practice and a lot of help from colleagues to help build my excel skills. I've had work experience in a small accountancy firm before, but the office environment can be challenging especially coming from a) a small firm and b) university. Even basic office skills have been really valuable (emails, calls, setting up meetings) and training on different financial software will help when it comes to my final year at university and hopefully when I start my career.
There was a real buzz of energy around the finance department especially on the build up of the half year reporting period. Each team I joined had a really friendly and welcoming atmosphere and I've not met or spoken to anyone that wouldn't help! Each team felt really inclusive and I often got invited to events with the teams. The open plan office feels very comfortable and relaxed, with teams able to interact with each other.
My manager had organised the structure of my placement in advance of my arrival, which allowed each department to be fully prepared and ready for when I joined their team. Some teams I only got the chance to spend a week with them, which could have meant time could arise to power through the jobs set for me. However the jobs were often ones that would take up a lot of the allocated time for each new department. Within the placement every few weeks there were event structured for the benefit of the intern community such as Career Stories from those who had been interns before and also a full day of helping out a local charity helping develop their brand awareness.
Once the internship is completed, there is the possibility of an offer onto the company's graduate scheme, and for the Accountancy placement is a 3 year scheme where you move teams within the department every 6 months (http://www.standardlife.com/dotcom/careers/graduates.page). If you're offered onto the scheme at the end of your internship, this means you don't need to re-apply for the role and it can give you some peace of mind during your final year at university.
There has been a large intake of interns over this summer (37 in total) which has allowed a great intern community. Standard Life offered those who don't live in Edinburgh local accommodation (and by local I mean ten minutes from the office) for the duration of their internship, which meant many of the interns were living in the same building which really helped build relationships over the summer. There is a strong youth development programme within the company, conscious to hear the younger voices within the company, which also helped build links between those on the internship and those who are in full time roles. Being in Edinburgh over the summer meant we got to experience the fringe and the tattoo. With Standard Life's offices based just off Princes Street and on George Street, this meant we could gather as a group of interns and head off to see a show, or even just to the pub for a drink in the sun. Once the busy time of half year had calmed, I was invited to many events from leaving parties, to festival shows with colleagues, which really helped build a more comfortable and relaxed environment.
As I mentioned, Standard Life paid for our accommodation if you lived a certain distance outside of Edinburgh. This meant the financial burden of accommodation in a large city over a very busy time was taken care of. Many of the shows at the fringe are free and since the accommodation was within walking distance to main attractions, this kept travel costs to a minimum (if any at all!). Edinburgh is quite a compact city, so living just fifteen minutes walk away from the castle meant you could access lots to do in a short time.
Edinburgh over the summer has a vibrant and exciting nightlife. The city is very busy especially during the fringe when there are shows pretty much 24/7 and almost any genre you wold like. The city is filled with many different kinds of bars and clubs many of which are free to get in.
The company has many different societies set up by colleagues to enjoy certain hobbies together. Whilst I was there over the summer, a choir was organised and I saw many events popping up on my company timeline with adverts for the wine society's nights out!