Reaching higher

Three final year students tell us about a specially designed, secretive Accenture boot camp weekend.

Accenture is one of the world's leading management consulting, technology and outsourcing companies. Three final year students who wanted to join the company were amongst those attending a specially designed, secretive boot camp weekend. All three have been given offers - but what was the Accenture Boot Camp like?

Lara Holford - Studying Physiotherapy at King's College London

Orla May Baker - Studying Geography at the University of Bristol

Luvy Singh - Studying for an MSc in Finance at Durham Business School

How did you hear about the Accenture Boot Camp and what made you want to do it?

Orla I'd actually been to a course organised by my university where Accenture had given a presentation. I was really interested in what they did and I wanted to learn a little bit more. The boot camp appealed to me because it was part of a wider application process. If you weren't chosen for boot camp, you could still get through to the next stage of the application process if you were a strong candidate.

Luvy After finishing my engineering degree I did some work for a manufacturing firm in a consultancy role. That confirmed for me that I wanted to do consulting. I chose Accenture because their focus on technology matched my knowledge and skills. On the website I saw an advert for the Accenture Boot Camp. I went to my careers centre and they told me more about it.

Lara I heard about it at a presentation Accenture gave in central London. I felt it would be a challenging couple of days and I'd get to experience a small taste of life at Accenture.

What were you expecting and did it live up to expectations?

Luvy It was much more than I ever expected. It gave me a really good insight into the company, the work they do and the kind of people who do it. I got a feel for the spirit of the company and it made me want to work there even more.

Lara I had no idea what to expect - they made it quite mysterious! Now and then, they'd send us things in the post, giving us little clues. We knew that it would be very intense but I had no idea. I don't think I got much sleep at all! It was very challenging but highly enjoyable.

Orla I was expecting complete immersion in the company and that's what I got. I learnt more about what they do and how they do it and I met a lot of people who work within the company. It was more than I expected - I could never have anticipated what it was actually like.

What made it an unusual experience?

Orla The fact that we met so many people across the whole company. You could never gain that experience from going to a presentation at university and having people talk at you. The biggest thing was being immersed in it for two whole days, getting involved in the activities they set up for us. They were long days because there was a lot to cram in. They made you think on your feet. It was challenging but rewarding because you could see the benefit of your hard work.

Luvy It wasn't about them testing us, we got to ask them difficult questions and they gave frank answers - so we got a very clear picture of how the company works.

Lara I'd never been in that kind of environment before or had the opportunity to take part in those types of activities. It gave me a taste of what life could be like at the company. The best part was the people that you got to meet - not just the other candidates but senior figures from the company. I now know people who'll be starting with me.

*What did you learn from it? *

Lara Having been put in a situation that was completely outside of my normal comfort zone, I was quite surprised with how I stepped up to the challenge. I definitely learnt more about my own capabilities and lots about the company. What impressed me most was the fact that everyone there seemed to enjoy what they were doing so much. They worked hard as a team. It wasn't an environment where everyone was competing against another. All these things attracted me to the company.

Orla Real, hands-on experience was the biggest benefit of the weekend. You can only learn so much from a website. I was able to discover whether I was actually suitable for the company. That was the most important thing for me - I found I would be working with likeminded, driven people. I also learnt a lot about myself, specifically my teamwork and leadership skills which I may have doubted before. It brought those things out of me.

Luvy Quite simply, I learnt about the way business is supposed to be done.

*What are you most looking forward to about starting with Accenture? *

Orla The fact that there's two weeks of training in Chicago. I'll also be starting with some of the people I met at the Accenture Boot Camp and it will be nice to be reunited. But, I'm looking forward to meeting lots of new people as well.

Luvy Many of the people already working at Accenture that I met at Accenture Boot Camp had joined shortly after graduating. Seeing the kind of careers they had excited me - the opportunities and challenges, the kind of projects they do and the type of clients they work with.

Lara I'm looking forward to experiencing the unexpected. There's only so much you can learn before starting the job. You can't know everything until you're actually there. I'm excited about what there is to learn and all the new challenges that lie ahead.

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