February 09, 2016
By: Christina Preece

My name is Christina and I am on the Accenture Horizons School Leaver Programme, an eight month paid pre-university Gap Year placement.

I decided to take a year out before university because I wanted to gain some work experience across a variety of sectors, as well as earn a bit of money before travelling in the summer. Management consultancy seemed like the obvious option, I knew the Horizons Programme would give me the opportunity to trial working with different clients, potentially different industry sectors and in varying types of projects.

Training Week

We kicked off in September with an intense week of training, formed of workshops, team challenges, lectures and Excel skills sessions. The main thing that I noticed in that first week was the incredibly personable, professional and efficient characteristics possessed of all of the Analysts and Consultants that I met. My Manager on my first project pointed out that as a management consultancy company, Accenture’s people are its product – and that is evident in the way that the company invests in developing, stretching and challenging all of its employees.

We closed the induction week challenge with a final presentation given by each of the 14 teams to propose a business technology solution and it was amazing to see how much everyone had learned in just that one week. From that comfortable room in the America Square conference centre, no time was wasted in sending us straight out to our first projects. There was a wide range of first projects allocated to each intern, generally aligned to the preferences we stated on our applications.

I was lucky enough to be allocated to a business strategy project for a consumer goods clients for the first four months of my internship. Straight away, I was treated almost like a graduate Analyst by my new team, who each took it upon themselves to teach me as much as possible about the particular stream of work they were involved in and general business practices. I was on the Integration and PMO team, coordinating an Operating Model Transformation, with initiatives deploying across multiple Workstreams such as Finance, HR, Sales and Marketing and IT. I was personally in charge of ‘owning’ the deployment schedule for over 120 countries worldwide.

Team Meal

This was an ‘out of town’ project, based in Bristol, which meant that we commuted to the client site every Monday morning from London and stayed in hotels for three nights a week, leaving the office early on Thursday to get back to London. This was probably one of the more exciting aspects of the role, as well as being able to rack up loads of Marriott hotel loyalty points. The social aspect to the role was great as well, I was on the events team of our Life@ work group. We organised meals out in the evenings as a team, enjoying other aspects of Bristol as a city, such as the Bounce Arena and a couple of cinema trips.

That isn’t to say that the role itself was a complete walk in the park, especially transitioning to working life from four months of a brain-dead summer. We had more busy periods and lighter periods of work where average working hours were 8am-7pm, with a few late nights. It’s fair to say that the phrase “work hard, play hard” is an accurate one when it comes to a company like Accenture.

I have now started my next project – a short term one for six weeks with a different client in consumer goods based in London. The commute is very different but the work is a good level of challenging. Look out for more details about this in my next blog post!

More blogs on this topic