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December 17, 2015
Orientation and Chicago
By: Anna Darnley

The training format changed a little bit with our intake; we spent two weeks in London and two weeks in Chicago.

We spent the first two weeks doing a lot of team building exercises and really gelling as a group (it took a while because there was a lot of us – 84 in fact!). Prior to orientation, we’d had to fill in a number of forms including a form which asked us questions such as what we were most looking forwards to, what questions we would ask an Accenture employee and also we were asked to provide an interesting fact about ourselves. One of the exercises involved matching up everyone’s names with their interesting fact – the networking challenge. I am quite proud to say that I won this challenge and received ‘Never Eat Alone’, a fascinating book about social behavior and how to effectively form relationships, as my prize.

In the second week, we worked in teams on a case study which we presented back at the end of the week. One of the things that quickly became apparent to me was that my Powerpoint skills were in dire need of improvement…the result of too much time spent in front of an apple mac. The case study was a great opportunity for us to put the soft skills we’d learnt during the week into practice and work with each to produce a professional presentation – it was starting to dawn on us that we could be on client site in just two weeks!

We finished the week with a treasure hunt through London. I was part of an amazing team who really threw their heart and soul into the challenge. The treasure hunt was us forming human pyramids in view of The Shard, calling on members of the public to join in a cheerful rendition of Jingle Bells and performing the Macarena in front of Monument. It was all a bit mad really. We returned to the offices within the time limit, presented our proof in pictures and were horrified to learn that we had drawn with another team.

The one challenge we hadn’t been able to complete was taking a picture with a celebrity – a feat that no one had managed. All of a sudden, one of my team mates pointed out that since I’d be on television in Korea and China quite a bit, technically I counted as a celebrity. Someone whipped out their phone, various selfies were taken and shortly after, we were declared the winners – however only after proof of my performances on Korean TV had been found on YouTube and screened for everyone to see. I like to think that allowing all this to happen was proof of my real dedication to my team!

That weekend we flew out to Chicago for two weeks of training in St. Charles. We were in classes with our colleagues who had flown in from all over the US and Canada. I was originally the only Brit in my team (below) so we had a lot of fun trying to convince each other how to talk properly. In fact the language divide proved to be a constant source of entertainment and we ended up having half the whiteboard devoted to the UK-US board of cultural understanding.

We had the weekend in the middle to explore Chicago and that we did. We went all out and saw the sights around Chicago. My London buddies and I made sure to visit the famous Bean and also spent a morning taking an architectural river tour of the city.

While I’d been travelling over the summer, I’d met a guy in Thailand who lived in Chicago so we made sure to meet up and grab food while I was there. While we were chatting, he was horrified when I casually mentioned that I’d never carved a pumpkin before and insisted that I join his flatmates’ pumpkin carving party that evening so I spent one of my evenings in Chicago, carving pumpkins, playing Catan and acquiring a taste for pumpkin beer – surprisingly nice!

Our final week in Chicago saw our training come to an end. Our training wouldn’t have been as amazing without awesome faculty – Ellie and Enrique. It was actually really sad to leave everyone especially all the friends I’ve made in the US and Canada – at least I’m sorted for holiday homes next time I’m over there!

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