In December this year, Accenture will take 38 students to Amsterdam to experience how Accenture is helping to create the EU's first "intelligent city". A week later another 30 students will be heading to a secret location in the UK to take part in the first-ever Accenture boot camp, a weekend-long event that will stretch, challenge and stimulate students in a way that's new, different and exciting.
Students from across the UK have been invited to take part, regardless of whether they have decided to apply to Accenture or not. So why are Accenture doing this?
Consultants achieve more
Jessica Davies, Accenture sourcing and process lead, explains the strategy.
"Consulting as a career is not always a natural choice for graduates. They can relate to being a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer, even an investment banker. But often the world of consulting is unclear - purely because they know very few people who have worked in the sector.
"We want to make absolutely clear why consulting is a great move for high-performing students. So we decided to take the bold step of inviting them to take part in two experiences that will give them a flavour of the life of a consultant - and what it means to achieve something for a business and something for yourself."
The intelligent city experience
Amsterdam, 4th December 2009. Students will fly out to the Dutch capital to find out exactly what is involved in creating the EU's first intelligent city. This is a pioneering piece of work, implementing the smart grid technology that will make a difference to governments and countries across the world. Students will meet the Accenture team, hear about the project and then experience it for themselves.
"As well as presentations and talks, we've organised a tour that will take in two key areas of the project - the 'climate street' and the harbour," says Annabel Nichols, Accenture UK Graduate Recruitment Lead.
"It's a really impressive tour highlighting the technological and economic impacts of the project, as well as the social implications for people in the city. And we'll be going on the tour by boat!"
The intelligent city is a pilot project that has the potential to change and shape the way we use energy and the way we live and work. It uses a smart electric grid, smart meters, smart-building technologies and even electric vehicles to reduce energy consumption in housing, commercial properties, public buildings and areas, and transportation.
It will help home-owners to manage their energy usage better. Buildings will be able to analyse what energy they need and when. When ships dock, they will lock into the grid rather than use expensive and polluting diesel engines. There is even a climate street being created, using sustainable waste collection, tram stops, and street and faÃ§ade lighting.
Something for the future? For Accenture, this promises to be a reality very soon - and it is pioneering the technology that will be rolled out in many other countries. Already Accenture is collaborating with a range of partners around the world, including United States, Germany, Brazil and China.
Now 38 students will get the chance to experience a project that promises to shape energy usage for millions of people. They will also have the opportunity to visit and explore the city of Amsterdam for the weekend.
*The first-ever Accenture boot camp *
While the intelligent city weekend is designed to give an insight into the work that Accenture does, the Accenture Boot Camp will explore what it takes to be a true high performer.
The focus for the event is not just creating employable students, but helping to develop exceptional skills. By the end of the weekend, which promises to be as tough as it is exciting, Accenture wants everyone to go away thinking that they can really determine their future.
Jessica Davies is unequivocal about the experience. "The Boot Camp is no corporate jolly and certainly not just another employability exercise. We are planning one of the most intense, stimulating and inspiring learning experiences that students have ever taken part in."
The students who attend the Accenture boot camp will spend the weekend at a secret location in the UK. By Sunday afternoon, the 30 students will know exactly what it takes to be a high performer in the world of business. They will be joined by members of the Accenture team as well as a few surprise guests!
From next year onwards, Accenture plans to make the boot camp an essential part of the student calendar, something high performers everywhere will aspire to be part of.
*The case for consulting *
Everything Accenture is doing centres around one common theme - "Achieve More". The intelligent city weekend shows what Accenture can achieve for its clients. The Accenture boot camp allows students to see what they can achieve in their career. Both are a taste of what you can do when you join Accenture itself.
So what is it like working for a consulting firm like Accenture? One of the most powerful attractions seems to be the variety of working with a range of (often big-name) organisations. As one person put it, "it's the difference between working for one business and working with many".
Consultants advise and support organisations on key issues and important areas of their business. In the case of Accenture, the focus is on helping businesses to achieve high performance and they do this for many of the most powerful companies and government agencies in the world.
This sense of achievement and this focus on high performance seem to be just as true of the people at Accenture as the business itself. Everyone is encouraged to develop - and there is a great deal of emphasis on the training, support, mentoring and career planning that helps people to progress.
This is only confirmed when you talk people at Accenture. Rachel Barton recently figured in the Management Today Top 35 Female Executives Under 35.
"I genuinely feel as though I've found an environment that I thrive in and keeps me challenged," she says. "I've had a good support network around me and that makes all the difference."
Adam Quigley, who only joined last year, echoes that sentiment. "The variety of work in consulting appealed to me - and of course, so did working for some of Accenture's clients, who are undoubtedly some of the biggest in the world."
The range of opportunities available gives graduates a chance to follow different and varied career paths, as well as work on a broad range of projects.
Many graduates who have joined Accenture have gone on to important and senior roles within the business, including the Accenture CEO, who joined as an analyst. There are also a number of Accenture people who now occupy important roles in business and industry - even the Head of the FA!
Achieving more. It seems that's just another day for Accenture.