Last semester, I was given the opportunity to represent the Gryphon Business Section at the LUBS Night of Exchange, and speak with graduate recruiters from a slew of big-name companies. Whatever your degree, the prospect of entering professional employment can be a stressful world of rehearsing competencies, assessment centres, and the occasional jacket fitting. It was for this reason that I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxed the atmosphere was, and the extent to which Leeds graduates are truly valued.
Of the few companies I had the pleasure of talking to, technology consultant and developer Accenture was the first. Bringing innovation to every aspect of the workplace, Accenture dispense with traditional, competency-based questions, preferring you focus on your strengths. Peter McMahon, Tech Arch Delivery Manager, was keen to stress that they ‘don’t pigeonhole you’. Whether your background is in French, archaeology, or computer science, their teams are looking for anyone with a passion for technology, as well as the capacity to learn. While advantageous, a tech background is by no means necessary. Progression is exceedingly fluid too, with the possibility of moving into almost any area of the business, from consulting to cybersecurity, after you’ve settled into the company. This drive for diversity extends far beyond your choice of degree, as Recruiter Charles Smith pointed out, proudly displaying a lanyard in vibrant LGBT colours – ‘it’s not just for show’. An authentically modern, forward-thinking corporate culture is a make-or-break factor for a growing proportion of graduates, and Accenture have been pioneers in this for the longest time.
Jazz Moodie, a recent Leeds graduate and Mars Associate reinforced the importance of being familiar with the values of your prospective employer. Despite its prodigious size, Mars is still fundamentally a family-run business, which translates into the countless community projects they have set up across the planet. Researching the firm’s activities is not only crucial for interview, but will offer you insight into whether the company culture would be a good fit for your personality. While the majority of firms, Mars included, utilise competency-based questions as part of their recruitment process, they place equal weight on their ‘Five Principles’ (quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency, and freedom), and how closely those align to your own values. Luckily, the University of Leeds is seen as ‘one of [Mars’] biggest talent pools to recruit from’, due in no small part to our Career Centre. Moodie was quick to remind students to make use of this invaluable resource, which offers one-on-one interview prep, psychometric testing, and even mock assessment centres – all inevitable parts of the real-life application process.
All in all, I found the Night to be an informative, low pressure, vodka-infused setting for professional networking. While it was impossible to converse with every recruiter, I came away with a distinctly enlightened impression of how a graduate should prepare to enter the job market. My thanks go out to the LUBS Society for organising the event, and I heartily recommend you keep your eyes peeled for the next one.