Katie O’Riordan, an intern at PwC. Image: PwC
Katie O’Riordan, an intern at PwC. Image: PwC

What do you do if you don’t know what kind of career you want?

31 Jul 2018

When Katie O’Riordan was in her final year of study, she still didn’t know what she wanted from the world of work. That all changed, fortunately, when she started her internship with PwC.

There is a lot of undue pressure on students to have their entire lives figured out at a young age. The Irish CAO system, for example, can promote the misleading idea that your fate is sealed once you choose an undergraduate course.

The cycle gets repeated in college. When the latter years of study creep up, it can be easy to feel anxious if you haven’t determined what kind of career you want to have.

Katie O’Riordan felt envious of her peers who quickly figured out what kind of job they wanted to enter into. She was unsure whether to continue with science or pivot into business.

Luckily, she got an internship at PwC that provided both clarity and a wealth of practical skills. We caught up with O’Riordan to find out what attracted her to PwC and why she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the internship programme to someone else.

What are you studying in college?

MSc in management and marketing.

What drew you to PwC when you were seeking an internship?

The main attraction for me was the diversity within the PwC workforce. Having come from studying an undergraduate degree in science to then completing an MSc degree in business, I was excited to work with individuals that largely have come from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise, like myself.

PwC’s reputation as the leading professional services firm in Ireland was another reason why I wanted to do my internship here, where I could learn from some of the top professionals in the industry.

What expectations did you have before you began your internship?

Initially, I was quite nervous to start my internship. I was apprehensive about how I would apply what I learned in college to the work that would be required of me at PwC.

However, upon joining, I quickly realised that I would receive all the training I needed to get me up to speed. Part of me was worried that I would be stuck doing the less exciting ‘intern jobs’ and would not get the hands-on experience I desired. Luckily, every member of the team, from directors to interns, is equally valued at PwC.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

On our first day at PwC, we had various training sessions and were given tours of the facilities and office space. The first week then consisted of completing e-learns and we also had an intern event, which was a brilliant way to get to know everyone better.

On week two, I started on an exciting project my department was in the process of completing. For this, I worked between PwC’s office and client site. This work was very specific and really helped me understand what consultancy is all about.

The team for this project was quite small, which meant I was given a lot of jobs that certainly tested my time management and organisational skills. I loved the challenge and really felt valued in the work I was undertaking.

Did the scope of your work change as the internship progressed?

As the work at PwC is project-based, each task brought with it varied responsibilities and challenges, yet I never worked outside of my scope and the team are very supportive. I was always confident and informed in the work I was doing.

As time progressed, I started to work on more complex tasks, and the scope of my work changed as I took on additional roles and responsibilities. This is one of the major benefits of working at PwC for me: no two days are same.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

Some days are really busy and you will be challenged, while others have involved training and development, which generally takes place at the Spencer Dock offices.

A typical day could involve early-morning team meetings, meetings with clients or completing your general workload for the day.

What key things have you learned during this internship?

I can honestly say that this internship has provided me with a wealth of knowledge of the professional services industry. The IT and presentation skills sessions are extremely comprehensive and offered a different insight to college as we were able to practically apply these skills to our daily lives.

Another aspect I learned is the importance of looking after yourself mentally. PwC really put an emphasis on having an appropriate work-life balance and we have various mindfulness workshops throughout the internships to help with this.

Has this internship made you feel as though you’re on the right career path?

Certainly! As with many students entering their final year of education, I really was unsure about what career path I wanted to pursue. I was envious of those who were certain that they wanted to become a teacher or a doctor as I was always unsure as to whether I wanted to continue down the science or business route.

The benefit in working with a company such as PwC is having the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients, each offering a new and different challenge.

Do you feel more prepared for working life following your internship?

The internship at PwC has definitely prepared me for the working world. Going from full-time education into a nine-to-five job can be a daunting one; however, the team at PwC facilitated this transition seamlessly.

Life at PwC has required me to work under pressure and produce high-quality work. The skills and practical on-the-job experience I gained will be invaluable to me going forward in my chosen career.

Why should someone take up an internship at PwC?

I would really recommend the internship at PwC no matter your background. One of the major attractions of PwC is the supportive culture, which is really important as an intern.

I was really surprised with how involved and included I felt from early on in the internship. When you are out on site, not only do you get the experience and responsibility of working on various projects and contributing to the team, but you also get the opportunity to speak and develop a relationship with the clients.

The social aspect at PwC is also really exciting. During our first week, we had an induction event with all co-op students and this was a brilliant way to get to know everyone.

I am also a member of the sports and social society, which hold monthly events within the people and organisation department, and this has been a brilliant way to meet new people. The atmosphere around the office is very welcoming and everyone is accepted as part of the team.

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