Working as an engineering consultant within the CPS team at an associate level.
The role consists of supporting the internal team and clients with largely project management and governance based projects.
I thoroughly enjoyed the placement for its diversity of projects and opportunities, the collaborative team, and how engaging my responsibilities were.
I was given the opportunity to learn new schools with guidance on how to apply these to the business. There were multiple projects with an opportunity to lead some mini-projects that would have lasting impact on the firm. The people made the day-to-day enjoyable and really set PwC apart as a nice company to work for.
Generally, I felt valued. I was able to offer my perspective leveraging my limited past experiences in meetings and at key decision points. My ideas were listened to and the team genuinely appreciate what everyone had to say.
Teamwork is huge at the firm, with senior leadership offering opportunities for individuals to step up and advise.
There were some initial complications with my placement in that I was not expecting to travel (as part of my specific role, it became apparent that I would have to travel four days a week every week). This was challenging, but through support from my managers we were able to come up with a compromise that meant I could remain near home more often whilst also delivering value to the business.
They were exceedingly supportive in this regard.
With regards to my personal development, there was definitely more of a focus on the permanent employees, which makes sense as they were there long term and were developing longer careers. I would have appreciated more career progression guidance from the firm without having to ask for it.
Business was temporal. One could go several weeks working overtime, to some weeks where there was little to do aside from personal development training.
I was never overwhelmingly busy or found myself exhausted, the nature of the work and the impact it was having fostered my enthusiasm to work harder and longer so it was not a drain when I did go into overtime. The quiet weeks were offset with personal and business development so I always had something to do.
I felt I was given a fair amount of responsibility. At PwC you get as much as you ask for. I pushed for opportunities to be responsible for certain tools, deliverables, and reports; responsibility which I was granted (with the standard manager checks and oversight).
I felt that my statements and opinions were considered and trusted, as much as any permanent associate.
The skills aligning with project management, time management, teamwork will be the key takeaways from this placement for me. I study engineering, so I did not learn too much that is engineering-specific but I certainly developed in areas that can be transferred to engineering companies (companies in general).
I was also trained up in several programming languages and software packages that could benefit my career in the future.
The office was a lovely environment. It was also nice to be able to go to the office and see colleagues in a well lit, clean, buzzing atmosphere. The office was neither dark nor gloomy; with ergonomic seating, dual monitors, and natural light.
The new Belfast office they are building will be incredible and particularly setup for supporting mental wellbeing and fostering a positive working attitude amongst the teams.
There were some initial miscommunication challenges. I was not told of the travel requirements (4 days a week every week) which created some challenges but these were addressed with strong support from the management team.
At a firm level, my placement was well managed with check-ups, socials with other placement students and permanent staff, as well as an ongoing support system.
The company gave me opportunities to develop and grow. They paid for training packages and subscriptions to websites where I could develop on a personal level.
I would have appreciated a tad more guidance from leadership on growth. Whilst the accompany encourages growth and have put all the platforms in place to foster development, I felt leaders were more focused on generating output for the firm and managing a team, than on their ability to mentor.
The firm is very appealing. The environment (people, events, atmosphere), the rewards (salary, bonus, benefits) and the impact (definitive impact on companies) are huge bonuses for the company.
There is tremendous opportunity for growth and progression with a strong positive work ethic.
On the other hand, initial salaries are fairly low (especially coming from the engineering sector where entry level salaries can be 50%+ higher). This is offset by an annual bonus, 25+ holiday days which can be bought and sold ( I believe the maximum possible is 40).
Social events specifically for business placements were not too abundant. However, that is because we were not treated like interns but rather more like associates within the firm.
We integrated with the company and our teams rather than remaining isolated with other business placement students. That being said, there were several opportunities during the year to chat with other students, and placement guidance leaders.
I was based in Belfast which for a capital city in the UK, is amazingly cheap. My salary adequately compensated me for the cost of living in the area.
Salaries increase in the mainland and in London to compensate for the increase in the cost of living in those areas but generally speaking, the salary meets the requirements to live and to socialise.
There are plenty of social opportunities in and around Belfast, both inside and outside of the firm.
Belfast is well known for its bars/pubs, less so for its clubs.
Bars are a plenty, each with a whacky name and a large selection of drinks. The hospitality industry is rather competitive here which is great for producing good quality bars.
Clubs are a little disappointing in my opinion and pretty similar to one another.
The music scene is growing, with clubs and bars renting their spaces out for local and international bands which is great for watching some big names at quite small and intimate concerts.
The firm actively works to help charities in the area. There is an entire day each year dedicated to charity where every single employee leaves the office and goes out into the community to help (One Firm One Day). There are plenty of other opportunities to get involved with community.
There were not too many social activities (besides parties and going out for drinks) besides what you arranged with mates in the office. There is a hope that this will change with the new building which will have rooms dedicated to hosting exercise classes, art classes, wellbeing...etc.