The benefits of a transition from college to a graduate programme

Saira Mehdi discusses her experience of Grant Thornton’s graduate programme and how it helped her transition ‘seamlessly’ into the workforce.


Saira Mehdi

Grant Thornton

During Saira Mehdi’s time at the National College of Ireland undertaking a business degree, she was confident that she really wanted to work in the financial services industry.

While researching graduate programmes, her interest was piqued by professional services company Grant Thornton. Now, Mehdi works as a consultant in the prudential risk and insurance team at Grant Thornton’s Dublin office, and is currently studying for to become a qualified financial advisor.

When she started her current role, she wasn’t sure about what she wanted to do. However, over time and through guidance and support, she started to feel that the prudential risk team was the right fit for her.

“Personally, I believe that rarely anyone really knows what he or she wants when they are fresh out of college. You may believe you know what you want, but I feel like it changes as you acquire experience.

“Choosing a career in professional services ensured I didn’t have to limit myself, as it provides me with diversity in client work and projects, and stretches me out of my comfort zone, in a positive way.”

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

My day-to-day duties as a consultant vary. Projects and clients are always changing. Working in prudential risk, I work closely with my team to onboard new client engagements, such as submitting AML [anti-money laundering] checks or preparing proposals. My day can also consist of several meetings, such as client project workshops and internal team check-ins.

It is fair to say I am constantly learning at Grant Thornton. There are several new concepts that I have not previously encountered, and this fosters the idea that learning doesn’t just stop after college. It’s constant, especially in the field of prudential risk and regulatory governance.

Did your responsibilities and workload change as the programme progressed?

There is a sense of mutual respect and talking to senior members of staff such as directors or partners is encouraged. Everyone’s experience is varied and contributes to the overall team, and this collaborative environment is particularly appealing.

We all work together to complete the assignment at hand. I appreciate that I was given significant work and was entrusted with responsibility, which signalled to me that I was valued in the team.

As I have been promoted to a consultant 2 and as my experience progresses, I can see that my workload is expanding to more substantial pieces of work. Although I am in the wider prudential risk team, I have had the opportunity to work within other areas divisions of this team, such as banking and insurance. As I progressed, I began to work with additional clients and was fortunate enough to go through a full secondment with one of our clients working in their offices.

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