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Katie Booth

Mazars LLP

Where did you do your industrial placement?
I did my Year in Industry at Mazars LLP, a business advisory and accountancy firm. Mazars specialises in audit, but offers numerous other services such as corporate and personal tax, corporate finance and business recovery services. They have offices all over the UK offering placement years and graduate schemes. I was based in the audit department, which meant I was responsible for accounts preparation for smaller companies and the audit of the financial statements of larger companies, which involved carrying out a number of tests to evaluate their validity.

How did that placement come about?
I attended the Oktoberfest at the School of Mathematics and saw a presentation given by a girl who had previously worked for Mazars and thought it sounded like a really great place to work. I sent off my C.V. and a covering letter, passed some verbal and numerical reasoning tests followed by a face to face interview and then an assessment centre. The whole process was really relaxed and even my interviews felt like casual conversations! I think that is what sets Mazars apart; they want to hire people that they think they could work with and therefore don’t pile the pressure on at the interview stage in order to get the best out of you.

What was the best thing about the placement?
For me, it was the people that made Mazars. It was a really fun place to work, everyone was always friendly and helpful and didn’t mind how many questions you asked! I met a lot of people from all age groups, backgrounds and levels of authority and learnt quickly how to build friendships with them all.

Did you find anything particularly challenging during your year in industry?
I had no previous experience or knowledge of accountancy before I did my placement year so some of the work was a bit daunting at first especially as the other two girls on placement with me studied accountancy. However, I learnt quickly on the job and there was always someone at hand to show me how to do anything I did not understand so I would still recommend the placement to anyone not from an accounting background.

What skills did you gain?
I think that overall during my placement year I became a much more professional person, becoming confident in building relationships with clients and colleagues and working independently and to a tight deadline frequently.  I also gained a lot of knowledge about accounting and how businesses are run in general, as a lot of the work audit involved meant making recommendations to clients on how their company could do things better, which I have no doubt will help me in later careers. I developed a work ethic which I believe has aided my studies during my third year as I can now concentrate for a lengthy amount of time and I have seen where all my hard work at university could get me.

Do you feel that this placement has helped your employability and future career aspects?
I feel 100% more employable after my Year in Industry. I have a lengthy amount of relevant work experience on my C.V. and the work I have done and the skills I have gained have given me plenty to talk about on my current job application forms and at interviews. After my placement I generally feel more confident as a person and have since managed to secure a graduate job to train as an actuary, which I have no doubt that I could not have done without completing the Year in Industry. In my opinion, work experience is just as important as academic achievement.

Do you have any tips or advice to give students thinking about doing it?
I would say that the Year in Industry is, without a doubt, the most important year of my life so far and couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone. I think it is the best way to make yourself stand out to future employers and gain many of the “soft skills” they are looking for. My advice would be to apply early and don’t get disheartened if you get rejected from any jobs. Job applications are all about practice and the right one will come along in the end if you are persistent enough!