What’s it like going from graduating with a Physics degree, to starting your first professional job as a management consultant?
It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question. It came up recently with a fellow graduate and I just gave a short response: ‘I don’t know’.
But, it caused me to think where I was last summer. Having just graduated, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do in the next stage of my life. Most Physics graduates were either going on to do a Masters or PhD, and others were already lined up to start a graduate programme.
I knew I wanted to work but I didn’t know what career to pursue. I wanted something that would challenge me, but not completely push me out of my comfort zone. I wanted variety in roles but also to gain specialism in an area.
The application process
After several weeks of looking through graduate scheme websites, signing up to recruitment pages and LinkedIn, Capgemini Invent captured my eye. Reading through the pathways available as a graduate, and life within the Consultant Development Community (CDC), I felt that this could be a place that would bring me the diversity in roles as a management consultant and also provide me with the skills and training to develop as a professional. Continuous learning, and an interest in working within technology, were also key factors for me. I therefore chose the Future of Technology (FoT) Academy, due to its focus on work within emerging technologies which would allow me to develop additional capabilities within the CDC. Furthermore, with the flexibility of starting at various points in the year, I passed through the final assessment stage in November and was able to join Capgemini Invent 2 months later in January – much better than waiting until the following September!
Joining the Consultant Development Community
I joined the CDC as a fresh-faced university graduate with very little experience in ‘professional’ work. Compared to my degree, I now had to use a different set of skills and interact with a new diverse set of people as a consultant. Applying my problem-solving and analytical skills would be no problem, but the thought of talking in front of a small group of people simply terrified me.
However, I didn’t want to spend any more time solving maths equations or writing 5,000-word reports from lab experiments. Instead, I wanted to move from theory to the real world, where I could develop industry knowledge and focus on tangible outputs, applying what I learn to real-life scenarios. Having worked as a student researcher before, I knew a graduate programme like the CDC would be an ideal way for me to transition into the professional world, developing skills such as public speaking, workshop facilitation, and project management that I didn’t get the chance to experience at university.
My first two weeks were spent in induction. I got to meet fellow graduates who were also starting their new roles, learning about Capgemini Invent, and gaining core management consulting skills training, including design thinking, facilitating workshops, and selling and bidding.
I was also introduced to my team and the FoT Academy, learning about the different capabilities within the practice, and the variety of training we would have the opportunity to take throughout our two-year programme.
My first roles
Straight after induction I was placed onto a project in the retail sector for 3 months where I was able to immediately put into practice what I had learnt in induction. I started to develop my ‘consulting guard’ and professional image around colleagues and clients. I helped to create client-facing communications and documents and supported the design and facilitation of core workshops. An exciting part of this project was flying to Warsaw a couple of times for workshops with the clients out there, a rare opportunity for new grads in their first month on the job!
I also started creating my internal CV for the Capgemini Invent resource managers to understand my experience and background, as well as looking for internal opportunities to expand my new network. After delivering on the retail project, I joined a project within financial services that was centred on cyber security.
This project is part of a large programme on Identity and Access Management (IAM) for a large multinational bank. IAM is a key control for risk reduction, improved user experience, and improved operational efficiency regarding the robust management of access to systems, applications and data. In this way, IAM ensures protection against unauthorised users gaining or maintaining unauthorised access to the bank’s critical information assets.
For the last six months, I’ve been responsible for overseeing and implementing the end-to-end cleansing process of a division of various applications. By improving application data quality and supporting data maintenance, it will enable system processes to more accurately and efficiently reduce IAM risk for the bank.
Upon joining, one of my biggest fears I had was developing a professional relationship with the client, whether they were a key stakeholder or just an employee who knows the ins and outs of their company. But that’s now turned into one of my favourite things about the project; speaking to the various individuals across the bank. The first time I had to engage with a stakeholder over the phone, I was nervous and I had to bring another colleague on to help me. Now, after liaising with more than 50 people, my confidence has grown exponentially.
Current day and what I have learned
Working with a great team and being part of a community with over 100 graduates has also been key to my development. This huge and diverse network has provided plenty of support and motivation. There will always be someone to help you with any struggles or to simply share experiences. We grab coffees, have lunch together, or simply have chats about the latest market stall where you bought lunch (consultants love food).
Looking back at my time at Capgemini Invent, within the space of a few months I have become more confident in communicating, presenting, and collaborating than I had in the 4 years at university. I’ve taken on more responsibility, become more organised, developed a professional image, and I’ve even learned some handy tricks in Excel. I can justify “proficient in Excel” on my CV now!
I’ve experienced work in two different sectors that I had no knowledge of previously and I am continuously learning about the various innovative technologies in which Capgemini Invent works with. I’ve learnt about Agile, become a certified Scrum Master, and achieved the AWS Cloud Practitioner qualification. On top of that, I’ve been involved with various internal work, which has expanded my network. Instead of writing lab reports, I’m writing a blog!
I’m looking forward to what my next project will have to offer, and what challenges and fears I will overcome next!
Kasia joined Capgemini’s Future of Technology practice in January 2018 having recently graduated from her degree in Physics with a Year Abroad at King’s College London. She is currently working on the DWP Security Culture, Education and Awareness project and is working towards specialising in Cybersecurity by taking the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship.