Aligning Skills to Your Passions - Shannon Howard's Graduate Journey
September 14, 2021
September 14, 2021
Shannon Howard joined Accenture in the 2020 graduate intake, as a Strategy & Consulting analyst, but quickly realised that her skills and interests were a better fit for Interactive. Find out how she mapped a path to change in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and what she wants new grads to know.
I was introduced to Accenture at a graduate recruitment fair after a friend recommended I check them out, and I knew as soon as I spoke to the representatives that this was the company I wanted to work for. I noticed immediately how the reps were so personable and passionate about their work, and I heard through their experiences, the breadth and depth of opportunities for my career that would be possible with Accenture.
You can forget your own path
When I first began my studies at the University of Sydney, I selected Finance and Accounting as my majors, but once I started classes, I quickly changed to Marketing and International Business as I felt these majors were closer to my passions and interests. Making that early change to my studies set the trajectory of my career, as I went on to do a Masters in Management, which introduced me to consulting opportunities and helped guide my next steps.
The power of ‘pivoting the path’ came up again when I began my graduate role at Accenture in Strategy & Consulting. During networking conversations with peers and mentors, I realised my marketing background aligned perfectly to the Interactive team, so I broached the possibility of transitioning into the team. It was through a series of conversations with HR and leadership around my skills and qualifications, along with support from my career coach, that I was given the support to navigate the transition journey to better align my skills with my passions.
You’ll often hear this idea of being ‘Truly Human’ at Accenture. For me, this means I’m encouraged to forge my own path and be my true authentic self to my work and clients. I don’t have to fit a certain box and I’m able to express my personality, which I love. Accenture also has a flat, approachable structure where ideas and opinions are encouraged to be shared from everyone – including grads.
You’ll be supported as you grow
Being a graduate means you are part of a formal program that’s designed to help you feel connected right from day one. Because I started my role at Accenture amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t set foot into the office until November 2020. While starting in my trackies in my bedroom wasn’t what I’d pictured, the broader Accenture community went out of their way to help me and the other Graduates settle in, scheduling virtual coffees, providing empathy and helping us to feel connected. The sense of community is amazing, especially within the graduate community. Everyone is friends and champions one another.
Accenture is a fantastic place to get exposure to different industries, business challenges and specialisations as you figure out the right path for you. The number of organisations you’ll be exposed to is staggering and you’ll have the opportunity to work on high impact projects, while learning from and networking with intelligent, interesting people to solve problems.
In my first few weeks, I worked on a project for a charity creating an innovative solution to an issue triggered by COVID-19. Since then, I’ve worked across financial services, telecommunications and technology clients. I now work independently a lot of the time. Being given this responsibility so quickly into my career helped me recognise how much I have progressed in such a short amount of time. It is encouraging to remind myself of everything I’ve already achieved and take advantage of the tools Accenture gives me, including coaching, to develop both as a consultant and as an individual.
A particular highlight for me has been creating workshop materials and facilitating sustainability workshops for clients. Like many young people, sustainability is a topic I feel strongly about, and I love that Accenture is championing sustainability among our clients and driving conversations in this direction, knowing that we are making a difference is so rewarding!
If you’re looking for a career where you can map your own path, discover the world of opportunities possible with Accenture’s Graduate Program. Applications open soon! Learn more about our student opportunities, today!