MPA Voices: How I landed a job before graduation

24 Oct 2017

American actor Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you”, a mind-set most of our students embarking on an internship holds.

Internships are definitely an important way to gain the appropriate knowledge and skillset that would be beneficial when you apply for a full time position and an experience to establish important connections in the field. After all, these networks may be the key to future roles. In addition, internships are also a way try out and see if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job.

Even in our short 1-year programme, we have included an extended break between term 2 and term 3, so that students may take the opportunity between the breaks to gain a first-hand experience working in the accounting industry. With our career service officers for postgraduate students, we offers workshops and seminars to help postgraduates sharpen their professional appeal to campus recruiters and facilitate in internships placement.   

Today, we speak to Jingwei and Anna, who are both in their final year of the programme, and their internships have led them to a full time role in the company that they had interned in, even before graduation!

Hi Jingwei, perhaps you could share with us what made you chose an MPA in the first place?

I did my undergraduate degree in University College London (UCL), majoring in Economics.  Upon graduation, I was at a loss of what to do, as I did not really plan for this. As such, I found it quite difficult to secure a full time job. I had a short stint at a Financial Planner firm, from which I learnt that sales is definitely not a job for me.

During this period of time, I realised that there were two most sought after professions in Singapore – programming and accountancy. I knew that I would not make a good programmer, so I decided to take up accountancy. This is the main reason I chose the MPA programme.

How did you manage to get this internship?

I actually got a chance to enter into the PwC Whole Leadership competition (I think this was the name), in which I had to make a 3-minute introductory video of myself. The process was rather challenging, and I took about 6 to 7 hours of trials in order to go through my script once without mistakes on camera. It was a rather interesting experience, and I concluded that I will probably not make a good actor (haha). Ultimately, I was fortunate to win this competition, which secured me a place in the internship.

Could you share with us a typical day as an intern at PwC?

As I am doing audit, I spent most of my time in client’s offices instead of PwC’s office. The typical day usually include going through lots of checklists. This involves getting the relevant documents from clients to ensure that their financial statement is accurate. There can be quite a lot of communication with client accountants as well.

As an intern, the seniors do not really expect too much in terms of technical accounting skills as they know I am still learning. However, they do expect me to put in effort and take initiative while doing my tasks, and to follow up on every assignment given to me.

In audit, interns are usually given the more repetitive tasks like vouching. While this can be boring at times, it is expected of us to be sharp at all times and clarify any doubts and anomalies that we see.

Hi Anna, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I hold a bachelor degree in both finance and accounting, but I have had no working experience before. I have completed my internship at Tardis Capital, which is a boutique Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) Advisory Company.

What is it that you do and could you share with us a typical day as an intern?

As an M&A advisory company, they are involved in advising companies on fund raising, buy side, sell side, Reverse Take-overs, amongst others. Since the firm is largely focused on M&A, my major work will be building financial models, projecting financial performance and preparing teasers(slides we use to advertise our projects). Sometimes, for better understanding of the client's needs, I will also be required to attend client meetings.

How did the MPA programme prepare you for this internship? Were the modules that you learnt relevant to the scope of work that you did there?

The knowledge I learned in MPA definitely helped me a lot, especially in financial modelling, because in my scope of work, I needed to have deep understanding of the historical financial statements and know the source of each account to generate the model for forecast. Accounting knowledge is actually very useful not only in accounting field, but also in finance sectors.

Do you have any advice for students looking for an internship?

In my perspective, I think right now most students are focusing on applying only for the big four accounting firms, but given the job market situation it will be very competitive. My advice to open more opportunities is to widen their net and apply for different companies and different roles, which will enhance both finance and accounting skills. Qualifications like CPA, ACCA and CFA can also be very useful to propel their careers in the future.  


Last updated on 09 Nov 2017 .