My PwC experience: Karen Chandrakanth, Risk Assurance Associate

20 Sept 2023, 12:41

Karen Chandrakanth is a Risk Assurance Associate with PwC. She previously completed an internship with the firm, and used that to inform her future career choices. Following her graduation from UCD she started a full-time position with PwC, while also studying for her ACA qualifications.

PwC internships and graduate programmes

Tell us about your current role and educational background

My name is Karen Chandrakanth and I’m an IAGRC (Internal Audit, Governance, Risk and Compliance), or Risk Assurance, Associate with PwC. I’m a Commerce graduate from UCD. I completed a nine-month internship with PwC from September 2020 to May 2021 and was delighted to return to PwC in 2022 to start my graduate career.

Since you joined us, what has surprised you about PwC?

That you don’t have to give up your passions. PwC values you for them and nurtures them. I always loved event organisation but never wanted it as a career and I have gotten the best of both worlds in PwC that I did not expect.

What have you enjoyed most, and what are the challenges?

I have enjoyed the variance in my working day. Both within-client work and outside-billable client work. The client work is specific to every client which is giving me a wide range of experience. In addition, I find that I work better because I can also do work to enhance the people experience through the Cultural Pillar Committee, IAGRC People Pillar and RAS Social Committee

What was the most challenging part of the application process and what advice would you have to others on dealing with similar challenges?

I felt like I had the tendency to undermine all the non-business experience I had, whether it be volunteering or a summer part-time job. There are so many soft skills you pick up in doing these non-business jobs and you should be proud of them and showcase them rather than thinking they are not relevant to the job you are applying for. Let the recruiter be the judge of that.

What are some of the soft or transferable skills that you use in your role and what other ones have you developed?

The most obvious would be communication skills, from talking to other people at your level to talking to partners and clients you learn how to express yourself clearly and succinctly. In addition, teamwork skills were strengthened as you no longer are doing an assignment alone but rather have to update your team members on your progress and work alongside them.

My note-taking skills have definitely improved as I am constantly getting instructions from my manager or taking minutes at client meetings. You learn to listen out for relevant/key points and are able to disregard the filler points.

What advice would you have for someone in the first week of their internship or graduate position in order to make a good impression?

I know it’s cliche but be yourself! If it’s a full-time position, you are most likely signing a 3.5-year contract, if you show a fake version of yourself in the first week it will not be sustainable! Be confident that you belong there, you got the job because they saw potential in you! The rest will fall into place.

What are some of the main things you have learned about yourself during the course of your experience to date with PwC.

I have learned that it is important to accept that you are here to learn and improve and that although you have an amazing degree under your belt, you do not know everything! In addition, I have learned that a change of scenery helps me stay motivated. I am very grateful for the hybrid model as having the chance to stay at home and think with no distractions will be needed from time to time. Lastly, I have learned that people make a huge difference! You may have loads of friends from college but the friends you make in the workplace are always there to bounce ideas off and get the well-needed coffee break. Discussion and encouragement are great ways to refresh the mind.

How would you describe PwC’s culture and working environment?

Trusting and encouraging. I find that no matter what mad idea you come up with. Managers have provided me with the resources to bring it to life. That really encourages me to push the boundaries and think outside the box.

What is the best thing about working at PwC?

Hands down, the people. You meet people coming from all arrays of life. By joining the cultural pillar committee I have met people from all over PwC, not just my department. Nothing beats walking down a corridor and being able to recognise friendly faces no matter what floor you are on.

How do you create a work/life balance for yourself?

I thoroughly enjoy work, but even then work/life balance is important. It’s all about keeping all the plates in your life spinning as work is only one aspect of that. I go to Waterford once a month as I feel that when I leave Dublin I am truly switched off, this also gives me time to spend quality time with my parents. I’ll make plans with my friends in advance for the evening (I know they’ll be angry at me if I cancel) to ensure that I put away my work laptop. And most importantly I leave aside time for myself to simply do nothing but treat it as a strict appointment that can’t be moved, I don’t let myself cancel on myself! I love the busyness of work but it’s important to put boundaries such as those mentioned in place to avoid being consumed by work.

Outside of work what is your passion/hobby??

In all honesty, my passions are just going out for food or drinks with my friends (if you can consider that a passion). I love playing music and listening to music. I play the drums to myself whether it be to relieve me of anger or just to get my heart racing! It honestly feels like a workout! I love going to concerts of both bands and singers. I’ve recently been trying to get into the gym too so let’s hope I maintain that discipline!

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