Before joining Queens, I was a pupil at Dominican College Fortwilliam in North Belfast. After this, I decided to take a year out before university so I could experience the world of work and earn a little money towards my university studies. This included an unusual but rewarding job as an elf in Santa’s Grotto and as a Checkout Operator in ASDA. I then started Queens University in 2010 studying for a BA in English Literature.
Where are you now?
I am currently working for PwC Belfast as a Student Recruitment Officer. My main role is leading the NI school leaver & higher apprenticeship recruitment drive which involves managing candidates from point of contact through to onboarding. I am also responsible for hosting a wide range of events for students, parents and teachers such as employability skills sessions, information evenings and office experience days. Most recently, I also planned and hosted the PwC NI Talent Academy - a 2 day residential for first and second year undergraduates at the Culloden hotel – a very hectic, but enjoyable two days!
How did you get there?
My university degree was extremely important in getting me to where I am today. In particular, my subject choices developed my communication skills, both written and oral, and my analytical skills, which have been essential in my career to date. My time at Queens gave me the confidence to hit the ground running when I entered the workplace after university.
My part-time job was also key in aiding my transition from university to the workplace - even though I didn’t realise it as much at the time (especially when I was stuck on a checkout on a Saturday night!). It provided me with customer service skills, an awareness of a commercial/business environment and increased my confidence in dealing with people and problematic situations.
My first graduate job was as a Technology Consultant at Deloitte. Aside from my main role at the firm, I volunteered to assist at a number of graduate recruitment events, such as career fairs and assessment centres. This exposure to recruitment made me realise that was where my real passion lay. Luckily an opportunity to join PwC NI’s Student Recruitment team arose and I have now been working at PwC in my current role for a year.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills
During Queen's I attended numerous careers events such as workshops on interview and CV skills. I also participated in the ‘Insight into Management’ course – a 3 day course for students based on a series of interactive business simulations. I learnt a great deal from this course and it was a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Coming from a humanities degree, it was an opportunity to begin to develop a business acumen and a managerial, strategic way of thining.
Any advice for current Queen's students?
Do not close any doors. You never know what you are going to end up doing. Companies are looking for a diverse set of graduates, often accepting candidates from any degree- as was the case with myself. Just get out there and get as much experience as possible even if it’s not something you are immediately drawn to - I never thought as an English grad I would be working in technology and then recruitment! Most importantly –be proactive… opportunities only come if you seek them out!