Internships and Spring Insight Weeks: A Contrarian Opinion
If there is one word that defines PPE students at Warwick, it is KEEN. If you look across all the societies and major activities that run on campus, you are bound to find one (or more) PPE student involved heavily with the organisation and functioning of each. We make it a point to be involved in as many things as possible, simply because of the value that it adds to us (and our CVs, of course). This pervades to our attempts to secure employment in the corporate world, especially in the fields of banking and finance. From the moment I set foot into the PPE common room in my first year (which I have raved about in another post; see here), I overheard conversations about Spring Insight Weeks and Summer Internships at the Big Four accounting firms (KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte, if you’ve been lucky enough not to be embroiled in this cycle already and don’t know what the Big Four firms are); soon enough, my conversations with my peers revolved around whether I had applied for these programmes at certain companies or not, and whether I had succeeded in the same. From the picture I had developed over the (brief) time I had spent at university, Spring Insight Weeks seemed to be the ultimate arbitrator of my success in the UK job market.
The point of this post is to dispel this notion. Spring Insight Weeks are great programmes to attend, as they give you an insight of how working in a particular company (or industry) would be like. It is a great tool to help you understand whether you would enjoy working at a company or spend the rest of your tenure complaining about your miserable job there. That is all they are meant to be; not getting one does not indicate in any way that you have some inherent flaws which would make you unsuitable for the job market. Furthermore, I think that there is a disproportionate focus on opportunities in the finance and banking sectors, and not enough focus on the opportunities available elsewhere. As a degree, PPE is one of the most applicable to any context and job description. Depending on your interests, you could head into government and civil services, journalism, banking and finance (obviously), marketing, academia or something different entirely; the choice is yours. However, I don’t think most of us realise that. You could apply for work experience and internship opportunities in publication companies, help a film-production house create a documentary, or even work at a farm (I’m not kidding; I know a third-year PPEist who did this over the summer).
From the picture I had developed over the (brief) time I had spent at university, Spring Insight Weeks seemed to be the ultimate arbitrator of my success in the UK job market.
You do not have to be constrained by the idea that Spring Weeks and Internships are limited to the financial services sector (or even simply the corporate sector, for that matter). So, if there is one thing I would like you to take away from this post, it would be to enjoy university to the fullest. You have three years here (or four, if you go on a year abroad); make the most of them. You will be heading for the job market after your time at university anyway; make sure that it doesn’t consume your university experience along the way. Having gone through the applications process (and not receiving many positive responses), I know that I would’ve enjoyed year 1 much more if I had spent more time with my friends than on my applications. If you’re applying, don’t spend too much time on the forms; this is one place where over-analysing is unlikely to yield any benefits. University is one of the most enjoyable phases of your life; don’t spend most of it trying to prove your worth to massive organisations who, for the greater part, would be unable to appreciate it fully.
You could apply for work experience and internship opportunities in publication companies, help a film-production house create a documentary, or even work at a farm (I’m not kidding; I know a third-year PPEist who did this over the summer).