Going to an assessment centre? You may need to work your business brain!

Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a ‘Skills for Success - Surviving Assessment Centres’ session delivered by PwC. PricewaterhouseCoopers also referred to as PwC, is one of the world’s largest multinational professional services firms. They are famously known as one of the ‘Big Four’ auditing giants along with Ernst and Young, Deloitte and KPMG. Their grad schemes, training programmes, internships and placements tend to attract a large volume of students, not only from the business and finance fields but also engineering, history and psychology to name a few.

As a second year engineering student, not having any prior knowledge about finance and business, I was a little skeptical about whether I would understand any of the material they were going to discuss. I was right! In the beginning it was all gibberish to me, but I slowly caught on. The representatives from the firm began by introducing us to what the firm was all about. This introduction led onto understanding the meaning and importance of ‘Commercial Awareness’ in today’s world, after which they handed out sheets of paper with a guessing game on it. The paper had provided us with a statistic of Coca Cola’s global revenue of $48 billion, followed by four blank spaces to guess if Wal-Mart, Switzerland, Apple Inc. or the National Health Services (NHS) had higher global revenue than them. The aim of the activity was to see how globally aware we were. Turns out, most of our guesses were incorrect which was quite dismal, however it was an eye opener for most of us.

After the first activity, the representatives spoke about their transition from University into starting at PwC, which was truly inspiring. They talked us through and gave us key points for application and interview processes. They also shared experiences from their own interviews, which gave us an insight into what it was actually like and made things look slightly more achievable!

Finally, they ended with a 40 minute activity, which involved reading about the current affairs of two companies; Lloyds TSB and Starbucks. Afterwards we had to draw out a business proposal to improve the current situation if one were CEO of that firm for a day. With constant guidance and ideas from the speakers, every group scanned through the given documents and came up with a rough business plan at the end of the time. These, were discussed, critiqued and applauded by the rest and the speakers seemed very impressed.

I can confidently say that I walked out of that room smarter and more knowledgeable than I was when I had walked in. This session introduced me to the basics of business in the UK and also gave me a chance to meet people from different disciplines all trying to work their business brain. With tips for CV writing and preparing for interviews, to the do’s and don’ts of university life, it was highly informative. I strongly recommend Skills for Success sessions; they tend to change your outlook on things, which might change your future forever.

Umang (Student Ambassador – Faculty of Engineering)
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