Tom Gwynne

History

Tom advocates gaining experience alongside your degree to be successful in the graduate market. Being involved in the school of History’s internship scheme gave Tom an invaluable insight into working for clients and taking responsibility for a project; experience that made him stand out to Deloitte.

What is your job title and who do you work for?

I’m an associate in the audit department for Deloitte LLP.

Describe your role

Companies are required to produce a set of financial statement detailing their position at the end of the year. My job is to go into companies and ensure that the statements they release give an accurate picture of their performance and position. This can involve confirming amounts to other documents, for example confirming that the company has actually made the sales it claims by checking invoices. Equally it can involve sitting with client staff and discussing the systems in place to gain an understanding of how the company operates. It could also involve physically checking assets exist; this has seen me climbing over piles of sand and gravel, negotiating industrial freezers full of pizza and hunting down everything from microchips to enormous earth movers.

How did you get to be in your current role after leaving the University of Leeds?

When I graduated I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, I looked at a wide variety of possible careers, although initially I dismissed accounting as something I wasn’t at all interested in. However time and time again I found Deloitte appearing in the listing of best graduate employers so decided to look into it. Audit appealed because it gave me the opportunity to see how a huge range of companies operate and get a good understanding of how the business world works. On top of this it gave me the opportunity to travel and work directly with people which appealed to me.

What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?

I took part in the School of History internship scheme which allowed me to work with both lecturers and outside contractors to develop a new module for the school. I was responsible for testing the new course and providing a students perspective on how the course should be structured. This helped me decide that I definitely wanted to work in a career where I would have the opportunity to work directly with clients. On top of this it gave me the chance to take responsibility for a project, experience which is extremely valuable to employers.

What skills and attributes did you gain from your course?

Studying history at university gave me experience in two crucial skills. The first was in working with large quantities of information, assessing what is useful and assembling that information. The second skill I developed was in actually presenting information, both individually and as part of a group, once I had determined what was relevant. This ability to process and present information has come in useful both in the application process and once in a job.

What skills and attributes did you gain from your co-curricular activities?

I joined a large number of clubs and societies when I first started university and continued with several throughout my first year. However I became more and more involved in one specific society, the archery team. Within the team I was able to serve first as secretary then as captain. This gave me experience organising competitions for hundreds of people, representing the club to the union and training and picking teams. As well as building my confidence this position allowed me to demonstrate to employers that I was willing to take responsibility for things beyond the minimum expected of me.

What advice would you have for students studying today?

I think gaining experience outside of your degree is crucial; employers are looking for things that set you apart from other graduates whether that is volunteering or getting involved with a sport or society. Given the current climate it is even more crucial to do something that will set you apart from other graduates.