‘My best advice is to be yourself’ – The Irish Times

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you studied in college

My name is Jennifer Kelly and as an avid swimmer and hiker, I’m proud to call Bray, Co Wicklow, home. I graduated from business and Law, UCD, as part of the class of 2020 – a year associated with the pandemic and the beginning of the “work from home” era. As a result, I sat my final college exams from the very same desk I started the graduate programme.

What attracted you to the grad programme?

In my penultimate year of college, I completed the KPMG summer internship in the turnaround and restructuring department and knew it was the right fit for me. But most importantly, I enjoyed the company of the whole team. This made me want to come back and complete the graduate programme, as well as knowing that having an ACA qualification would be a great asset in any business area.

What is the graduate programme like?

The grad programme is a great way to meet new people with more than 300 graduates joining each year. It gives you a great introduction to working life with the added benefit of having lots of people of similar age working with you. This is a huge advantage when it comes to sitting the ACA exams, as you have the same camaraderie as in college.

How important is mentorship to you?

Mentorship is important for many reasons. As a mentee, it’s really assuring having someone you can bounce questions off comfortably and confidently. Networking opportunities and understanding various approaches to a project are also crucial aspects of being a mentee.

The buddy principle is one of the most important elements in the graduate programme. From day one you are assigned a buddy to help you throughout your graduate career, and as you progress into year two and year three, you become a buddy for those starting out. It’s extremely beneficial from a development point of view and is an invaluable tool in teaching you how to lead, delegate and communicate with others.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Ultimately I hope to lead a team of my own using the skills I have learned. My experience of turnaround and restructuring has really helped get an insight on how businesses can sometimes fail and, importantly, how they can best adapt to challenge and change. I also hope to be able to travel with the ACA qualification as it’s internationally recognised. The network has fantastic opportunities to broaden your horizons and work in different offices worldwide.

What’s your advice to graduates applying to the programme?

My best advice is to be yourself. The application and interview process can be daunting but at the end of the day all of the people interviewing you have been in your shoes once or twice or even a few times.

Be attentive and interested and ensure to tailor each application to the specific company and role – show you did the research and took the time to get to know what the company is all about.

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