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’13 McCormick graduate Heather Herzog says the opportunities and network of people are two of the best things about working for Accenture.
Describe your role with Accenture. What drew you to the company and how long have you worked in your role?
I have worked at Accenture for four months now as a Systems Integration (SI) Consulting Analyst. As an SI analyst you get placed on projects where you use a combination of technology and business skills to deliver complex technology solutions to clients. The project I am currently working on is in financial services, where I am responsible for gathering and documenting business requirements. For this project I travel to Columbus, Ohio each week.
I was really interested in the dynamic work environment that consulting offers, but when I decided to try out the technology consulting route I knew that Accenture was a leading company in that industry. What made me love the company was all the great people I have met and worked with in my time here!
What is your work and education background?
I graduated from Northwestern in June of 2013 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. I also completed the Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates in Managerial Analytics.
In the summer after my sophomore year I held a supply chain internship in the purchasing department for Navistar International Corporation, a global corporation that manufactures commercial trucks. The following summer I interned with Accenture, after which I received and accepted my full-time offer with the company.
What was the recruiting process like for you and what makes a candidate stand out to Accenture recruiters?
I accepted my full-time offer following my internship, so my experience stems from the internship recruitment process. The first interview was a short (approximately 30 min) interview discussing my resume and experiences. That night I was informed that I was moving onto a second round interview the following day. The second interview was about an hour long and was all behavioral based questions. At Accenture, Technology and Systems Integration Consulting positions do not require a case interview.
To stand out to Accenture recruiters, show your personality and be yourself. One of Accenture’s core values is “Best People” and I truly believe the company recruits some of the best people out there. While the company highly values intelligent, hardworking individuals, an Accenture recruiter is going to be looking beyond just your GPA and accomplishments listed on your resume. They look at the total package. Accenture recruiters look for personable people who can communicate, collaborate, and will reflect highly on the company when interacting with clients.
Describe a typical workday.
Given the nature of consulting I think it is more appropriate to describe a typical work week. On Monday mornings I fly from Chicago to my client in Columbus, Ohio. I usually get to the office on Monday around 10:30am. My daily activities can vary greatly. Some days I might spend the whole day working on an assignment in my cubicle and some days I might be in a working session with my team for the entire day. Most days are a mix of individual work and team meetings, either in person or on the phone. On Thursday nights I fly back to Chicago, and then Friday I work remotely from home.
What’s the best thing about working for Accenture?
I think one of the best things about Accenture is how many opportunities are available to you. The project staffing process works a little differently, whereby rather than being placed on all your projects you can apply to roles that interest you, so it is more of a mutual selection process. I think this gives me much more control over my career path because if there is a certain area or industry I want to explore I can look for opportunities to do that. Accenture’s clients are all over the world in almost every industry so there is a lot of variety in the opportunities available within the company.
The other thing I’d like to call out about the company is the network of people. Everyone I have worked with and met within the company, from managing director to analyst, has been so helpful, and people are more than willing to offer any support and guidance you need.
I also have found that I’m able to have a great work-life balance at Accenture. While long hours some days are definitely a possibility, Accenture makes a point to take care of their people.
What professional advice do you have for job-seeking graduating students? For students who are early in their college careers?
I think that students beginning their career search should do a lot of research. When I started learning about consulting, I quickly realized how many companies were out there and how different each of them was. Even though internship recruiting didn’t kick off until the winter, I started my search early. That fall I went to every information session I could, regardless of the fact that they were only interested in full-time recruits at that time. I was able to learn so much about the companies, do a little networking and start to build relationships with the companies without the added pressure of worrying about getting an interview or not. Come wintertime, I felt very prepared. I knew what each company could offer and I also knew a lot more about what I wanted in a company. I was able to narrow down my search and really focus on the companies that would be the best fit for me. Whether you are looking for an internship, or just interested in learning about what jobs are out there, never pass up an opportunity to attend an event as nothing compares to talking to real people and learning about their experiences.
Take every interview seriously and put in the extra effort to go into it confident and prepared. I worked on campus in the UCS Interview Center and nothing reflects more poorly on you than missing an interview, showing up late, or being unprepared. Put in the effort to arrive early, research the company, and practice! You will thank yourself that you did because you don’t want something as small as waking up late or not having paper in your printer to print your resumes to be the reason you didn’t get the job.
What does your work space look like?
This is my cubicle in the client office. When not working remotely, I am at my desk about 60% of the time and in conference rooms the remaining 40%.
What gadget, office tool or program can’t you live without?
My most used office program is definitely Microsoft Lync, our company instant messaging and virtual collaboration tool. It’s a great way to quickly contact teammates and peers when you have questions, and it links with your Outlook calendar so you can easily tell what time someone will be available if you need to contact them. With the mass number of emails everyone gets these days, this tool is a good way to get your questions answered quickly. Lync also allows for audio and video calling as well as screen or application sharing. As such, it allows you to easily connect and collaborate with co-workers no matter where you or they are located.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Never minimize an opportunity and keep an open mind about your career. Looking back a few years ago when I applied to Accenture I had no idea this is where I would be working full-time and how much I would enjoy technology consulting. Northwestern students are hard workers, and when they know what they want they go for it. But it is also okay to not know right now what you want to be doing when you are 50 years old. Even something that you think is the perfect job for you could end up being a wrong fit. You never know until you are experiencing it. It is important to set goals and have a plan, but you should be open to the idea that the plan can and probably will change. So keep an open mind because you can never know where an opportunity can lead!