If I had to pick the most important thing I learnt from my internship with Lane Clark & Peacock LLP (LCP), it would be that making the decision to apply and properly prepare for the interview was undoubtedly worth it.
After nine weeks of experiencing the career of a trainee actuary, I entered my final year of university knowing that I had a job secured at the end of it in a role that I enjoyed and that suited my skill set. I’ve now been at LCP for nine months and work is going better than I could have ever hoped, whilst many from my year at university are still unsure about the career they wish to pursue.
Some advice on the application process
You can learn a lot about a company or a job sector from the application process itself. Application forms often ask similar questions, providing hints to what knowledge base is expected within the role of an intern. Competency questions will always appear and you can also expect questions on why you have applied to the company in general and your chosen department in particular. I would encourage you to investigate the role in detail so that you can give the best possible answers to these questions. If you are unsure of which companies would suit you the most, their websites can often give a very good idea.
For me, LCP’s website provided me with enough detail on their company values, work ethic and attitude towards its staff to convince me it was the place to apply. LCP’s intern application process was really straightforward: one form to complete and then I was invited to attend an interview at their London office followed by lunch with some recent interns.
The advantages of doing an internship
A major advantage of an internship is that you gain a perspective on what to look for when applying for jobs: for example, the people you will work with day-to-day, the training available and the mind-set required to understand and complete the work. Only when I started my internship did I realise how important these factors were. I even asked to be back on the same team I did my internship with when I was offered a graduate position, and this is the team I now work in.
What did I learn during my internship?
LCP offered me a wide range of work during my two-month summer placement, covering a number of FTSE 100 clients and multinational companies. A typical day’s work would include performing individual calculations on member pension benefits and contributing towards the formal valuation of company pension schemes. I had the opportunity to work on behalf of both the employers and trustees of pension schemes, which often involved monitoring company performance and drafting reports in order to provide consultancy advice.
Whilst the work was challenging and required a high level of academic ability, it was brilliant that I was engaging in genuine work that I’d be exposed to in a graduate role. This provided me with some initial learning that was useful when I began the graduate position, and the training I received, which covered professionalism and soft skills as well as technical pensions training, was invaluable.
Am I right for the role?
Not only did my internship give LCP a chance to assess my compatibility with the company, it also gave me a detailed insight into the day-to-day work I’d be expected to perform and whether the company was right for me. It was a two-way interview.
As LCP is an actuarial consultancy firm, the internship required both academic and communication skills. It was clear from the outset that it suited someone who was analytically-minded with the ability to solve problems whilst also being able to communicate complex concepts to a non-expert audience. It was a fantastic opportunity to see whether my skill set suited the role and for LCP to consider me as a permanent part of the company in the future.
Deciding on my future career
Over my nine-week placement it was clear that the career prospects and support LCP were willing to offer in a graduate role were something I didn’t want to miss out on. Only by working at LCP as an intern could I see the extensive training provided, the study mentor and buddy system they have in place, and how they continuously encourage you to try new challenges whilst giving the flexibility to work on projects you find interesting. Even over the short period of time, I felt integrated into the company. An internship gives you the chance to see if the company is one you can see yourself working at for years to come.
At the beginning of university I was unsure of what or where I’d be once I graduated. But by exploring potential career paths and applying for an internship, I have now begun a career in a role I have tried and tested, at a company that suits and supports me, and with people that encourage and motivate me. My one piece of advice to any capable and motivated undergraduate would be to apply for an internship and give it a go – it could be the best decision you ever make.