MyLaTrobe reached out to students who successfully secured internships and graduate roles to discover their recipes for success.
We spoke Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws student Sabrina Ranasinghe, who landed a highly sought-after summer internship with Big Four accounting firm PwC.
I’m not going to lie, it was a long and emotional process, but you have to try and be positive and back yourself throughout.
You’re currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at La Trobe, can you tell me why you chose this course and how the course and your time at La Trobe prepared you for the workplace?
I chose to study this course because there are many exit opportunities after university in both commerce and law. Although I have only wanted to work in the commercial sector rather than practice law, I have always been interested in learning about the law and wanted to be able to expand my skill set and knowledge by learning about the Australian legal system. I have found that studying both commerce and law has in fact assisted me with securing an internship position in one of the Big 4 accounting firms and has provided me with knowledge and skills required for the workplace.
Are there any aspects of your degree that have proved particularly important in the workplace during your internship?
During my time at PwC, I was responsible for drafting a Private Binding Ruling (PBR) request to be sent to the ATO on behalf of a client. Constant use of the IRAC Method in my law classes proved to be helpful with structuring the paper and having to abide by strict word limits in law assignments provided me with lots of practice to be able to address all key issues in the PBR request.
I was surprised to find out that out of the approximate 1,000 applications received by Chartered Accountants ANZ, I received the highest mark in the assessment centre stage!
In terms of the commerce component of my degree, last year I studied an audit subject at La Trobe which involved identifying risks in different scenarios and formulating recommendations. I found this experience to be particularly helpful when I attended a client meeting and took notes of the client’s processes. I was not expected to formulate recommendations, but my team were impressed that I was able to add more value to the advice that we provided to the client.
You’ve landed an internship role with PwC, can you tell me about the steps that you took to land this role while studying?
I applied for my internship through the Chartered Accountants ANZ Achiever Program which saved me from applying to multiple firms during recruitment season. This was helpful as I didn’t lose as much study time as I could have, although you have to keep in mind that if you want to make your application stand out, you must be willing to spend some quality time preparing it.
I was required to submit an online application, undertake online testing, answer questions during an online interview, perform group activities in an assessment centre and finally undertake a face-to-face interview at PwC. I was surprised to find out that out of the approximate 1,000 applications received by Chartered Accountants ANZ, I received the highest mark in the assessment centre stage!
You have to keep in mind that if you want to make your application stand out, you must be willing to spend some quality time preparing it.
I’m not going to lie, it was a long and emotional process, but you have to try and be positive and back yourself throughout. Who knows, you may even land yourself your dream job!
What has the internship experience been like so far and what have you learned?
It has been a huge learning experience for me to say the least. In order to maintain strong client relationships that PwC have established, I have had to work hard and fast to be able meet client deadlines. I have learnt the importance of prioritisation and how to manage my time effectively.
I have also learnt the importance of making meaningful connections with others. I found that forming good relationships with fellow team members is important as they are the people you will learn from. I also found that seeking feedback from my team members was extremely useful, no matter how small the task.
Overall, I am extremely grateful for my experience at PwC and the opportunity to learn about what the Indirect Tax team does. It was interesting to learn about many issues I wasn’t aware that businesses face, which made me understand the importance of tax consulting to assist businesses manage their GST obligations.
You’re very active in student life outside of the classroom can you tell us more about this and why it’s important?
I’ve just ended my tenure as the President of the La Trobe Commerce Students’ Association (CSA) and will be undertaking the position of Director of Sponsorship this year. My experience in the CSA has been invaluable so far. It has been very rewarding to have been able to organise events for CSA members to help them gain the skills they need when they enter the workforce.
Along the way I have been fortunate enough to have met so many passionate students and helpful staff and sponsors, as well being able develop my skills such as management and communication skills which I can take with me to the workplace.
I feel like the events and workshops that the CSA have hosted provided me with tips to succeed in my internship application so I cannot recommend enough attending our events (no bias at all!) or any events like this to know exactly how to ace your internship applications plus to be able meet some really awesome people. So make sure you involve yourself in as many activities as you can while studying to be able to put yourself in the best position possible.
Where did you see your course at La Trobe taking you in the future?
I see it being able to enable me to get jobs in the future in both legal and commercial sectors due to the variety of skills that I have developed over my time at university.
My favourite thing about studying at La Trobe is…
That La Trobe provides you with many opportunities to get involved. You are in control of your university experience, so make the most of it!
You are in control of your university experience, so make the most of it!