Our visit to the Barclays and KPMG offices in London

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On the 16th May, a group of first and second year students had a fantastic opportunity to visit both KPMG and Barclays offices in Canary Wharf, London. It was the first time CareerCentral had organised an event like this to visit two world renowned and Times Top 100 employers. We had students from varied backgrounds, including: economics, business, accounting, law, history and psychology; and with a range of graduate opportunities, open to students of any discipline, it was an excellent chance for students to get their feet in the door early and make themselves stand out; especially, with many of the schemes opening in the autumn term.

After a very smooth journey, we managed to get to KPMG’s office bright and early! We ventured up the building which had great views of the local area, including: other major company offices, restaurants, etc. It gave the students an idea of what it would be like to work in Canary Wharf – one of the most respected and reputable areas to work in; especially, for finance and banking careers.

After a short introduction from the graduate recruitment team, the students got the opportunity to network with them as well as UEA alumni (both recent graduates and more senior employees) with a free lunch. The students really enjoyed it and it gave them insights into pursuing a career path at KPMG, with one stating, “It was an eye opener to what I need to do in order to find the right pathway for me.”

Following this, we had an employer presentation on building your personal brand before a quick tour of the building; which the students really enjoyed and got an understanding of what it would be like to work there.

After that we made the short five minute walk to Barclays office. Following a brief introduction into the different graduate career paths, by one of the graduate recruiters, we had a Q and A session with UEA alumni and other staff. It was a really good opportunity for students to ask questions to these employees who have been with the company for some time and had varying roles and experiences. One student reiterated this point: “Having the ability to network with individuals and seeing exactly what is required of us to progress our careers with these businesses, was very useful.”

Talking to alumni in both organisations highlights one of the major benefits of attending this office visit, as the students got advice and information of what it would be actually like to work there; which the students simply cannot get by looking on their website. In addition, chatting to UEA alumni was really good for the students, as they could relate more to them.

Once the Q and A was wrapped up, the students got the chance to chat with the UEA alumni and other staff with free pizza and drinks; before we went back to Norwich.

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Each office visit provided a different format but both made a huge impression on the students. The alumni and other staff from both Barclays and KPMG gave the students some great advice and insight into pursuing a career at these organisations, as well as in the sector in general. The students also made a very good impression; through dressing smartly, networking effectively as well as asking excellent questions in both offices.

With many jobs, it is fairly easy to understand the role but not so easy to understand the working environment and culture of a company, before starting, and as a result it can be quite daunting applying for these companies. Therefore, by having an office visit, it gives the students better insight into these factors and gives them more confidence in applying for these types of firms. This is especially important, considering how working in banking and finance is generally perceived. This office visit was an opportunity to show the students that they wouldn’t be stuck in a cramped office but somewhere vibrant; where they got the opportunity to grow and develop.

All in all, it was a fantastic event which gave the students a clear insight into both companies and will help guide the students in their future career paths; whether they wish to follow a career in these sectors or follow a different path. We asked the students if this office visit has impacted their future career decisions with many agreeing it had. With one student stating: “The office visit changed my perspective of bankers and those working at KPMG. It has given me an alternative aside from Law.”

Stay tuned for next year’s event schedule where we will have more office visits as well as other employer events on campus.

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