Our graduates| Jonáš Jelínek| Last year in St Andrews
24. November 2015 Jonáš Jelínek

Last year in St Andrews

“Before you know, four years are over,” my mum said to me as I was leaving for the biggest adventure of my life.

I remember thinking four years was a long time, and there was no way they would just fly by like this. But they did! Coming to St Andrews in September for the last time made me recall this conversation, and made me realize my time in St Andrews was slowly coming to an end. But just slowly, there is still one year left!

Before I cover the first two months of my first semester, I will briefly touch on my summer. I always try to make use of my summer time and spend it productively and this year was no different. I managed to successfully secure an internship with PwC London. Since the admission process for PwC in the UK is quite long and complex, I thought I would share some of my experiences with it. After successfully passing through the online application stage, one is invited to sit a series of quantitative, logical and personal online tests. These are followed by a telephone interview that lasts around half an hour and assesses all candidates against a set of key competencies that each company is looking for. Some of the question I was asked included “When was the last team you worked in a team” assessing one’s ability to work as part of a team or “Tell me a time when you actively sought a different perspective to solve a problem” looking at one’s ability to think flexibly and outside the box. This stage is finally followed by a personal contact with someone from the HR department, and this is the admission centre. During this one-day event, candidates have to sit another set of quantitative, written and logical tests which are then followed by various group activities. In my group, we had to advise a company on how to launch a new product. After passing through this stage, I was invited for a personal interview with one of the partners of the company to London. I was expecting a very serious business interview, but to my surprise, this was quite a nice interview that actually felt more like a normal personal chat. After this stage, I finally got offered a place in the summer internship programme.

The internship itself was very interesting as I had never done any tax consulting before. It started off with a three day induction week in a luxury resort where I had a chance to get to know the other interns and also what to expect from my day-to-day office life. After that, I was sent to my local office in London. Set right next to the London Bridge, the office building had an amazing view overlooking not only the bridge but also the London Town Hall and the Tower. During the internship, I mostly worked in the Private Client Team which dealt with tax matters for high-net-worth individuals, usually from the London banking industry. I was given real responsibility from day one taking part in various projects, unlike during some of my other internships where I was not a real part of the team. One of the greatest things about this experience with PwC was the structure of the internship – I had a personal buddy who helped me become a part of the team as well as a people manager who helped me set and then achieve development goals for my time with the firm. Even though I received a graduate job offer and the work was certainly a valuable experience, I did not enjoy working in Tax enough to want to start off my career in this department.

Now to update you a bit on my first semester in St Andrews. This year I am writing a year-long dissertation in International Relations and I still take two modules in Arabic. These are Advanced Arabic and Exile and Identity. While Advanced Arabic builds on my knowledge of media Arabic from last year, Exile and Identity is a literature module that focuses on Arabic short stories that deal with the issue of identity and exile. For my dissertation I chose a topic of famine, asking the question “Who benefits from famine?” and looking in particular at the recent famine in Somalia in 2011. Working independently on a long-term project of my own is something I am particularly looking forward to, but it is also going to be very challenging.

So, that is all for now. In my next post, I will update you on the progress of my last year in St Andrews, and in particular on the updates regarding my dissertation.


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