How to make a summer internship work for you

It is no secret that work experience is highly valued by employers from almost any industry. A survey illustrated in gradireland’s Top 100 Leading Graduate Employers, reveals that 30.1 per cent of employers consider relevant work experience as an applicant requirement. Summer internships are a great way to gain valuable experience and strengthen your CV without disrupting your studies. Taking the time out of your summer to intern demonstrates drive, ambition and a willingness to learn, qualities that will impress employers. If you take full advantage of the experience, display determination, test your skills and knowledge and attempt to network and establish industry contacts, a summer internship could determine your future career path.

Maurese Gargan, Theoretical Physics student at TCD, gives us an insight into her summer internship experience in EY’s Risk Advisory Department.

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Maurese Gargan

 

At the beginning of my third year studying Theoretical Physics, I knew that I didn’t want to pursue an academic career. Instead, I hoped I could leverage the skills I had developed with my degree, such as problem solving and data analytics, and find a suitable career in the professional services industry. I was aware that careers in management consulting and advisory were well suited to people with strong problem solving skills, but I didn’t know much else about working in the field. I felt that an internship would be a good way to see if a job in professional services would suit my skills and personality.

My internship experience

I attended gradireland’s Graduate Careers Fair at the RDS and after speaking with the student recruitment team from EY, I knew it was the company for me! The application process and interview were made as straightforward as possible for me and, thankfully, I was a successful candidate. I was given a place on the 12 week summer internship in the Risk Advisory department in the Dublin EY office, and it was the beginning of the summer of a lifetime!

Coming from a “non-traditional” background into an accountancy firm left me a little nervous on my first day. I was worried that my lack of business knowledge would leave me at a disadvantage, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the other 42 summer interns were also from “unusual” degree courses. However, we were all provided with comprehensive training during our first week at the firm, so it turned out that my degree background was irrelevant because nobody was left in the dark.

Once I joined my service line, Advisory, I was made feel a part of the team. The Advisory management team made the interns feel very welcome and encouraged us to ask as many questions as we could. The partners and directors of the department sat on the same floor as everybody, so they were always approachable and happy to give us advice. I was allocated a “buddy” who I could bombard with silly questions and turn to if I needed help. I also had a counsellor who helped me to plan my 12 weeks, to set my goals and to ensure that I was reaching my potential during my internship. I was given work to do almost immediately and was well and truly thrown in at the deep end; completing client facing assignments, attending client meetings and working with senior members of the Advisory department. Although the work was something I had never done before, help was always available and ultimately the responsibility I had been given made it a valuable learning experience.

As well as all of the Advisory work, I also had many opportunities to work in other areas of the firm. I was able to work with the student recruitment team, the marketing department and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year team. I also completed a business challenge with six other summer interns from different departments. It gave us exposure to many areas within the firm and helped us to understand the inner workings of a large organisation.

The highlight of my internship, however, was definitely attending the EY International Intern Leadership Conference (IILC) in Disney World Florida. Alongside 2,300 of my intern colleagues from all over the world, I had the opportunity to attend leadership workshops, to experience large scale team building activities and meet the global CEO, Mr. Mark Weinberger. The week long event was also an incredible networking experience where I made international EY friends and also learned to appreciate how my input in the Dublin firm can affect the firm’s performance on a global level. The IILC taught me that even in large multinational corporations, every contribution is important.

 

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Maurese Gargan (left) with EY’s CEO Mark Weinberger (right)

My future

At the end of my 12 weeks, I was able to interview for a graduate position. After such a wonderful intern experience, I had absolutely no doubts that EY was where I wanted to start my career. Thankfully, the Advisory department felt that I had made a good impression and that I was the right fit for a graduate placement, starting September 2014. Since returning to college for 4th year, EY have given me the opportunity to work with them in their recruitment campaign and have continued to support me through my final year studies.  My summer internship experience ultimately launched my career into the professional services industry, and has adequately prepared me for my graduate placement with EY.

For further information and advice on internships and work placements, please visit http://gradireland.com/work-experience

gradireland’s annual Summer Fair is the perfect opportunity for you to talk to individual employers about internships and work placements. 

For more information on the fair, please visit http://gradireland.com/events/57016


Diversity in the workplace

Eimear Noelle O’Reilly, Programme Officer for Diversity Champions at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), looks at the significant progress made by employers to embrace diversity in the workplace.  

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Companies in Ireland are embracing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

“Because of my employer’s positive attitude to diversity, being out as gay opened doors for me that might otherwise have remained closed.”[1]

Equality in the workplace is a critical priority for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Whether you are just starting your career or already working, being part of a company that is inclusive and allows you to be yourself at work means a much more positive workplace experience.

Over the last twenty years in Ireland there has been great progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people including in the workplace. Companies including Accenture, CRH, Dublin Bus, Deutsche Bank, Dublin City University, ESB, EY, IBM and the Irish Prison Service have joined Gay and Lesbian Equality Network’s, (GLEN) Employers Network Diversity Champions. These companies are working with GLEN to ensure their workplaces and businesses embrace LGBT diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the business whether it is recruitment, workplace culture or service delivery.

Today good employers in Ireland are not just saying they are inclusive they are demonstrating it to their employees. Good employers know that the best places to work are those that proactively embrace diversity.  Last year for the first time ever in Ireland, top private and public sector companies committed to LGBT workplace inclusion featured in the first ever national LGBT Graduate Careers Directory by GLEN.

A number of graduate employers who have embraced inclusion and diversity in the workplace will also be recognised at gradireland’s Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014. This years Diversity Recruitment Award will honour a single employer who has demonstrated excellent diversity recruitment practices, campaigns or initiatives. The shortlist of employers nominated for this award can be seen here at gradireland’s Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014 events page.

Knowing that the company you work for reflects and supports the diversity of its staff in its workplace culture, policies and business objectives means that you can give your best to your job.

“Now it is not the same tension on a Monday morning wondering how to navigate those questions about what I did at the weekend.”[2]

All employees benefit from an inclusive environment. Employers who embrace LGBT diversity send a message to all staff that they value their people for who they are and what they can bring to the table. And remember if an employer is committed to an inclusive workplace for LGBT employees, they usually see the value in other types of diversity and are generally more inclusive.

Diversity Champions is GLEN’s network for employers committed to creating inclusive workplaces and businesses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

You can learn more about LGBT inclusive workplaces at: www.diversitychampions.ie

For more information on equal opportunities in the workplace, please visit http://gradireland.com/careers-advice/equal-opportunities

Eimear O’Reilly, Programme Officer Diversity Champions, GLEN

[1]Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) Diversity Champions 2014 Thought Leadership Research –Working It Out by Brian McIntyre and Elizabeth Nixon

[2]Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) Diversity Champions 2014 Thought Leadership Research –Working It Out by Brian McIntyre and Elizabeth Nixon


A showcase of innovation: Project Fair 2014

Kevin Street Project Fair

This event at DIT Kevin Street allows final year students to showcase their innovative technology projects to industry representatives.

Project Fair 2014 was held at DIT Kevin Street on Wednesday, April 9th, the fourth year of the event, which has grown significantly since its original inception. “This year we have over ninety students from six different programmes across the School of Computing and the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering exhibiting their project work. The Project Fair works like a reverse recruitment fair, with many top employers visiting the fair to talk directly to students about their projects and skills. It’s a great opportunity for companies who are hiring to talk directly to final year students who might be the right fit for them,” explains event organiser Mark Deegan, from DIT’s School of Computing.

 

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The range of the projects on display at the event was hugely impressive. There were several highly creative and commercially aware projects in the mobile field,  from data encryption for mobile devices, to a mobile app which allows the user to identify historical features on a landscape and a very smart Mobile Travel Payment app developed by Seamus Barcoe of DIT. “Essentially it’s a very easy to use app that will allow commuters to use a common payment method across all Dublin’s public transport providers. This app creates virtual QR code  tickets and validates them on request. Users can top up their payment wallets, check the price of journeys and synchronise all their travel onto one app.” Barcoe plans to develop his current Android version into an iOS version also, before developing his commercial business plan.

Also on display was the very popular Virtual Reality Driving Tutor Simulation. This allows users to learn to drive within a bespoke virtual environment, created by DIT’s Cian Gardiner. “The simulator uses a head mounted ‘oculus rift’ headset and a force feedback steering wheel and pedals to teach the basics of driving within a simulated world. It’s a cost effective, home friendly solution which I believe would be a very beneficial aide for learners,” says Gardiner.

Other areas in which students had created innovative products included education, gaming, environmental awareness, mobility, prosthetics, robotics and self-defence.

Project Fair also featured CanSat, showcased by the winning team from the Leinster Transition Year CanSat competition. This is part of a European Space Agency Programme to promote interest in STEM disciplines. The satellites developed by CanSat are the size of a soft-drink can and are launched to an altitude of a few thousand feet and return to earth under a parachute. Using a radio transceiver they relay data to a ground station for presentation and analysis. The CanSat projects use off-the-shelf, or commonly available, components and the typical cost is less than €100. The winning CanSat at this year’s project fair was inspired by the thermal insulation properties used by daredevil Felix Baumgartner on his record breaking high-altitude parachute jump.

Just some of the 30 plus firms who met and talked to students about their projects at Project Fair 2014 included; Google, Eircom, IBM, SAP, Microsoft, SIG, Ocuco Software (who sponsored the event) and Yahoo.