• Name: Richard Davis
  • Job Title: Industrial Placement Student
  • Location: Egham, Surrey
  • University: Exeter
  • Degree: Accounting and Finance
  • Areas of Specialism: Audit and Assurance

Tell us about yourself

I am an Accounting and Finance student at Exeter University and currently on a placement which makes up the third year of my four year course. I enjoy Martial arts (especially Jiu Jitsu), training in multiple styles/disciplines and I’m a keen photographer. I’ve recently become a qualified scuba diver and I absolutely love travelling, last count I’m at 20 countries and I’m hoping to hit triple figures before I die. I believe in living life to the full which doesn’t involve an uninteresting, time-consuming and unrewarding job; I’m constantly assessing my happiness and striving to be the best I can be. If you’re looking for the perfect placement then hopefully you’ll want to hear what I have to say.

Why did you choose to do a placement?

There is a joke that me and my friends share about employers that are looking for someone aged 20-25 with 30 years’ experience; although clearly impossible, collectively we agree that work experience is key to career development and employability.

When I was presented the option to do a placement as part of my degree, I remember thinking that not only will it give me valuable experience but it would also enable me to see how my theoretical knowledge translates into the working world. It adds something to your CV which makes you stand out from other candidates when applying for a job, so for me a placement was a no brainer!

What attracted you to Menzies?

I’m not one of those people who can be a small cog in a big machine, I couldn’t go into a firm knowing that I would never see the beginning or end of a job. This meant that I ruled out the biggest accounting firms from my search almost instantly. However, I wanted the exposure and range of work that a large firm would come across so I also ruled out small companies. From there I did my research into accounting firms that are big enough to get a variety of clients but also small enough that I would be able to be involved with every step of dealing with the client. During my search I came across Menzies and they seemed to capture everything I wanted my employer to have. Their focus on building a relationship with clients was exactly what I wanted.

What are your main duties?

I don’t think I have any main duties, not for throughout the whole year anyway. As the placement involves working in three different departments, my role and duties are changing every few months. One week I could be, for example, preparing the tax return for a high net wealth individual, the next week I could be producing the accounts for his/her company.

I do have main duties whilst I work within the respective departments, but when I switch departments these duties change. I couldn’t be happier about this; not only does it keep my role fresh, it also enables me to see every aspect of the business and how it all interlinks.

As I will have to return to university for an additional year, the fact my role isn’t the same throughout the year means once I graduate I will have a better understanding of what career path I would like to take and what I would be expected to do in that role.

What have been the most important things you have learned from the placement?

The most important thing I have learned from my placement so far is that worrying about getting it wrong is always worse than actually getting it wrong. If you throw yourself into the task and get it wrong then the worst thing that could happen is you get some constructive criticism back. More often than you think, you’ll be given a task that is beyond your capabilities, as your colleagues have never met you before and they will be trying to gauge your current knowledge. Taking an overcautious approach to things can lead to you starting to doubt your own abilities and I have seen this be the downfall for others in their career. Following on from this though, it is almost as important to take the criticism and work on it. If you try your hardest and fail no one can really blame you, but if you keep making the same mistake over and over then it’s just going to come off badly for you. Don’t be afraid to fail and use that failure to better yourself.

Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship/placement?

Know what you want and don’t be disheartened by failure. I know you have probably heard this a thousand times from every source you can think of, but they are not wrong. You have to know what you want and then begin to focus on that. I have a friend who applied to 60 placements and did not get a single one of them. Rather than put in a quality application for the few jobs she actually wanted, she tried to cover all her bases and it didn’t pay off.

Think about what you would like to achieve in your life, what your career goals are, and do some research into what jobs will be able to get you there. One quality application to your dream job, showing genuine enthusiasm towards the role is worth over 100 applications. Saying that, don’t be disheartened if you don’t succeed first time. More often than you think it’s almost nothing that separates you from the candidate that got the job. I would 100% recommend emailing the recruiter asking for feedback about your application, as the majority of them are really nice people and will usually put aside five minutes of their time to tell you where you could have improved. Learn from your mistakes and try again, you will be able to get the perfect job if you put the time in to get it.

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