This post has been written by Chris Walker, SET team member and Law student at The University of Birmingham.
PricewaterhouseCooper are the largest professional services firm in the world, recruiting 1,500 graduates in the UK this year and recently announcing revenues of around £3billion. In the prestigious Times Top 100 Graduate Employer Guide 2015/16 they were ranked number 1. Most importantly of all, however, was that on the 3rd November they ran the University of Birmingham Heat of their 2015/16 Opportunity Challenge at the Bristol Pear in Selly Oak.
The challenge was simple: University of Birmingham societies were invited to attend with a team of 2 or 3 people in order to compete for £1,000 towards their society – the winner would go onto challenge for the grand prize of £10,000 at the national competition. Last year, the University of Manchester Astronomy society had the particular honour of winning.
Armed with a sufficiently hazy knowledge of obscure pub quiz facts and a desire to win, myself and a friend attended on behalf of the University of Birmingham Debating Society. Arriving for the 6pm start, we were greeted with drinks and a packed pub full of a variety societies ranging from UoB Potter Soc. to the UoB Investment Society.
We were seated by some friendly trainees who were keen to answer any (non-quiz) related questions about the firm whilst we waited for the evening to begin. The trainee we spoke to initially described how the friendly culture at the company and the training programme, which was ‘tailored to improve and progress us along our careers’, as his main reasons for joining.
The rounds were organised into PwC, General Knowledge, Commercial Awareness and Bestimates. For the sake of our egos we won’t necessarily discuss the scores we received throughout, nor the particular answers we gave – if Chile was the longest country in the world, surely it has the longest stretch of coastline versus Canada which has the longest cumulative coast? Surely?
We did however score highly on the PwC round – a testament perhaps to how much we learned on the night about the firms various practice areas, its history and its strategies for consolidating its strengths – a reminder to prospective applicants that an in-depth knowledge of any company you are applying to, alongside an ability to apply that knowledge practically, is a helpful approach when preparing application forms and for interviews.
Between rounds and nachos, we were also given the opportunity to participate in a networking session with those present, where quizzers were given the chance to ask both graduate recruitment and trainees what exactly PwC looks for in a strong application to its diverse practice.
Pub Quizzes are generally are an excellent networking experience overall as well. I would also highly recommend the DLA Piper Annual Pub Quiz, as well as Pinsent Masons Cocktail Making Evening. Beyond being enjoyable experiences in isolation, these offer relaxed environments in which to engage with trainees, graduate recruitment and partners at the firm while asking questions about your prospective future employer outside of the necessary confines of a formal networking environment.
Congratulations to the overall winner of the evening, the Birmingham Ice Hockey Club. Commiserations and better luck next year to the rest of us! If you missed out on this event, and if you’re interested in learning more about PwC as well as other companies, make sure you follow CAL careers on Facebook, Twitter and keep an eye out for opportunities via their weekly Canvas announcements. You can also go to PwC’s website to find out more about their available internships and graduate schemes.