By Josh Roberts
As Trinity Careers Week draws to close and the hordes of lovely (but rather annoying) graduate recruitment folk with their shiny suits and free pens head back to their desks, many of us may well have been tempted to apply for a Christmas placement or a summer internship. Interning deadlines are approaching fast.
Placements like those in investment banking, accounting, tax consultancy or even freelance deck chair design offer significant sums of money and the kind of CV-bulking that would have Bill Cullen foaming at the mouth. Not to mention, they effortlessly fill those cavernous early months of the summer holiday which (if you’re anything like me) are usually occupied with eating crisps, watching sport and looking for cheap internet deals.
That said, last summer I was roused out of my summer slumber to a three-month internship with a “Big Four” accountancy firm where I worked in the audit department (checking other companies’ accounts for discrepancies). As well as spending time in my firm’s office, I worked with many of the companies whose recruitment rats (as they are affectionately known) graced the Arts Building last week.
It is with this in mind, that I feel compelled to share with any fellow would-be Gordon Gekkos what I think employers are looking for from us students. My advice may not be conventional, but given that they all pay roughly the same and the work is all roughly the same (and your life ends up being roughly the same), these pointers might just be worth considering.
First up is the on-site grub. It was Winston Churchill who once said, “without a good luncheon, people cannot function”, and this is no less true today than it was then. Having been cajoled into the office at 8:30 in the morning, an intern’s lunch break is crucial. Therefore the catering facilities (or lack thereof) is a hugely important factor when deciding which employer to plump for. The gastronomic industry leader has to be Google. Not only are breakfast, lunch and dinner offered for free, but on Friday night their gargantuan canteen is transformed into a complimentary cocktail bar serving, as they say on Ryanair, “a truly tempting selection of soft and alcoholic beverages”.
A close second, in my mind, are the restaurants of the “Magic Circle” law firm. Meals at Clifford Chance LLP, for example, can be spent lounging in the airy restaurant and tend to be themed throughout the week: made-to-order fajita day (usually Thursday) was a popular hit with famished barristers during my two weeks there. Unluckily enough for me, accountancy firms score low in the lunch stakes (especially true in regional offices) offering stale sandwiches to be eaten “al desko” or, at the very most, a hot plate of questionable curry with about as much taste as Elton John.
A different type of facility is, to use the term of our friends across the Atlantic, the “washrooms”. To some this may seem utterly trivial, to others it might be rather repulsive, but anyone who’s been hit with a spot of the “Aztec two steps” during office hours will know how truly important this is. Indeed, unlike any other public conveniences, a visit to the facilities at work will almost certainly involve an encounter with a fellow colleague, your boss or a client meaning that sound-proof floor-to-ceiling walls are a must.
In a friend’s experience (definitely not my own), all of the big firms tend to live up to these necessities, with law firms again leading the way (especially true in terms of showering facilities; if you cycle to work this will be similarly imperative).
Food and bogs aside, the most important thing to take into consideration is the type of people with whom you will be working. The brochures, pamphlets and websites are full of people propaganda. “Our people are creative, skilled and exceptionally driven”, claims one website. Fair enough. But are they funny and outgoing? Are they going to give me evil eyes for being three minutes late?
There are of course many other things that need to be considered – working hours, proximity to home, the ease with which the stationery cupboard can be looted and the amount of naughtiness you can get away with in emails are all fine examples. If you are applying this year, best of luck. If not, enjoy your flip-flop and t-shirt clad summers while they last because at some point we all have to face the real world.