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Day In The Life (KPMG) - Sarah Arnold

Debt Advisory Associate - KPMG

I graduated from the University of Exeter in July 2016 with a BA in History and began the intensive tax graduate scheme at KPMG in September that year. In this blog post I am going to give you some tips on how to get work experience to help you secure a graduate job and also give you some insight into being a graduate at KPMG.

Internships / Work Experience Tips

As a history student, I did not have a lot of experience in the world of business! I didn’t apply for a summer internship but instead arranged some work experience in a local accountancy firm in my hometown and also at the finance department of my former school. My advice to under-graduates would be to try and get as much work experience as possible! You don’t have to go down the summer internship route, you can do local placements to both strengthen your CV and help you learn about industries that interest you.

As well as helping you decide on a career path, work experience will be really helpful when it comes to graduate recruitment interviews. These tend to be skills and competencies based so it’s important to have lots of experience you can draw upon to bring your skills to life. To make these as recent and relevant as possible you can do work experience placements, get involved in clubs / societies and volunteer.

Getting work experience or an internship can be difficult. Send your CV with a tailored cover letter to as many firms as possible – someone will respond! You just have to persevere and reach out to friends, family, former teachers – anyone you can think of who will have connections that might help you land your dream role. Don’t be disheartened if you struggle to find an internship, there are lots more graduate places than internship placements and you can build up your skills and knowledge through other experiences.

Don’t be afraid to use your existing network to learn about potential jobs. You can reach out to Exeter alumni to learn about roles – try speaking to graduate friends from your clubs / societies, searching on LinkedIn to find alumni in industries you’re interested in or speak to The Exeter Women in Business society to see if they know anyone that can help you. It’s difficult to know what career you want to pursue and how to enter the industry so don’t be afraid to reach out to people to ask questions– they will be more than happy to help. While at Exeter and throughout my career I have always had a career mentor to ask for advice and I would really recommend this to undergraduates too. The Exeter Women in Business society should be able to help connect you to a mentor and lots of big firms also have a women’s network which I would really recommend joining and utilising!

Inside a KPMG Graduate Job

KPMG is a one of the Big 4 accountancy firms and works with some of the largest clients and on some of the largest transactions in the UK and worldwide. KPMG specialises in audit, tax consulting and deal advisory services and there are huge number of different specialist teams within these business areas. Deal advisory includes the Mergers & Acquisitions teams, restructuring teams and transaction services teams covering lots of different deal types and providing advice at different stages in the transaction life cycle. When people think of an accountancy firm, they often only think of audit services, but larger firms offer a whole range of roles that banks and management consultants also provide. One of the great things about KPMG is that it’s easy to arrange a secondment where you can work in another part of the business for a while to see if there is a different specialism you prefer. It means even when you have landed your graduate job you still have loads of opportunities to change your career path which is great while you’re still early in your career and figuring out your likes and interests.

No two days are the same at KPMG, you will work across a number of clients and depending on your team you will either be sector agnostic or an industry specialist. You will learn about lots of different businesses and work with experienced professionals who will help you gain and improve your skills quickly. Even as a graduate, in client facing teams you will have the chance to interact with clients daily to start building your network and your confidence as a woman in business. For any further information on KPMG’s graduate or undergraduate programmes check out

My best advice is to talk to as many people as possible to learn about different roles and industries and try and get lots of work experience to help guide your career choices. Never be afraid to reach out to someone for a coffee or a phone call - it’s totally normal in business and you never know where it may take you!

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