Currently a 2nd year student studying MA Accountancy and Finance, Rhonan has been actively involved with ICAS as a campus ambassador and took a 10 week internship with ICAS last year. Here he answers our questions about his experience and gives us some advice for students looking to gain valuable experience whilst at university.
Why did you choose to study Accounting and Finance?
When I was younger my father told me a bit about the world of financial investing and suggested that, if I wanted to learn a bit more, I should read about people like Warren Buffet and Ray Dalio. This was the start of my desire to learn more about finance and investment.
At school, I was given the opportunity to study business subjects and my favourite subject was Accounting. In my final year I was lucky to be awarded the Melrose prize for Accounting and it was, therefore, a natural subject to go on to study at University!
Learning from experience is an important part of studying. What practical experience did you undertake during your degree?
I have been very fortunate in gaining practical experience whilst studying at Aberdeen. Last summer I secured a ten-week internship at ICAS and I also spent a week at a Private Equity firm in Edinburgh. This experience has helped give me some clear insights into the world of Accountancy and Finance.
What has your experience been like being an ICAS Campus Ambassador?
I really enjoy being an ICAS Campus Ambassador. The events are good fun and I get to meet lots of interesting people. Being an Ambassador has allowed me to gain further insight into the world of business and accounting and hopefully will open doors to future internships and job opportunities.
What was the highlight of your internship with ICAS?
The highlight of my time at ICAS was being able to put some of the knowledge I had gained at University to good use. This included using theoretical accounting principles for some of the work at ICAS as well as applying more general skills, such as the use of spreadsheets and the Microsoft office suite.
During my internship, I undertook many varied tasks involving many different areas of the ICAS business. I was asked to create an HR dashboard to provide Management with visibility over a number of HR-related KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). This involved working with specialist HR software and creating bespoke outputs for the ICAS HR Director and members of her team. I was also asked to re-write the ICAS maternity policy and present it to the company! This tested my problem solving, research and presentation skills.
I also spent some time working with the Operations department helping to clear out a backlog of operational improvement projects. In general, the work included using more general skills, such as the use of spreadsheets and the Microsoft office suite.
Additionally, I was asked to consider how ICAS could improve its internship process. This included working with all of the interns to gather data about how they had been interviewed, onboarded and managed during their internship programme.
All these projects benefited me as it required a wide range of problem-solving skills and my knowledge of general business skills.
How do you feel about your career prospects now vs. before you started your degree?
Since starting my degree, I feel my career prospects have improved greatly because I am learning valuable skills and making some great contacts. I intend to work hard to secure a good degree which hopefully will allow me to get a good job when I leave University.
The Business School has great connections with industry, and this is important if you are studying something such as Accounting and Finance. These links should help give you a head start when you are ready to look for a job.
My experience at The University of Aberdeen so far has been very enjoyable and varied. At the moment I am actually studying at Copenhagen Business School for 6 months as part of the Erasmus overseas programme. It is great to have a chance to experience living in a totally new country and to meet students from all over the world!