Michael Flavin, last year’s GeogSoc president, is now enjoying his fantastic new job as a Finance Analyst with Centrica. Here he gives tips advice and discusses how the Geography degree prepared him for the world of finance…
Q) What do you do?
A) I work as a Finance Analyst for Centrica, who are better known as the parent company of British Gas. I am on a three-year graduate scheme in which I am training to become a chartered accountant. For my first rotation, I am a Finance Analyst in Group Functions, so I am partly responsible for the budgets of the corporate affairs and legal functions of Centrica across the UK, North America and Ireland.
Q) How did you get the job?
A) I got a place on the graduate scheme after completing a 10-week internship in the summer of my third year. To get a place on the internship I had to complete an initial application, which was followed by psychometric tests, an interview, and an assessment centre in which I had to do further psychometric tests, a group exercise, a presentation and a final interview. At the end of the internship we had to go through another round of interviews and presentations so all in all, it was fairly competitive!! As a result, I was offered a job on the condition of achieving at least a 2:1 – and so begins the story of a whole world of dissertation stress!
Q) How did a geography degree prepare you for this job?
A) I get this asked this a lot, which is probably fair enough given that I am in finance! But for me, my geography degree is a distinct advantage I have among my peers. There are certain skills you pick up throughout the geography degree at Edinburgh such as a wide range of research and analysis techniques. Through the quantitative, qualitative and research methods courses that prepare you for your dissertation, you bring a diverse range of skills that are applicable in all areas of life post-graduation. Geography has also allowed me to understand the implications of data sources. In a working context, this is great as I am able to communicate tangible information to a variety of stakeholders.
Q) Advice for students?
A) My key bit of advice would be to get involved in as many things as you can at university! As well as focusing on my studies, I sought to take part in extra-curricular activities that would help me stand out. For instance, I was a consultant for Freshsight, and being on the GeogSoc committee for several years played a huge part in enhancing my employability. The technical, organisational and social skills I gained here complimented the techniques I was picking up through my degree. For most applications, you’ll have to go through a competency interview, and these activities are invaluable. A little tip here: use the STAR technique when faced with a competency interview! But when all is said and done, get involved and have fun – you’ll miss the uni life once you leave, trust me!