Success Stories from EFR alumni: The way to and working at Deloitte
EFR takes pride in its alumni. Whether we are talking about full time or part time board members, the Marketing or the Involve committee, Dutch or international students, past EFR members have built – through tenacity and ambition – a career worthy of notice. We’re bringing this article to you in hopes of inspiring and helping young talents: think tips, possible education and career paths directly from the successful employees and entrepreneurs of today. And worry not, you’re already on the right track because our alumni were in your shoes just a few years back! Today, we’re talking with Marjolein Volkers, consultant at Deloitte.
Deloitte is one of the main partners of EFR. Over the past years, EFR members have benefitted from support and trainings provided by the financial consulting and audit giant. Clearly, Deloitte is a possible workplace for Erasmus University students. Marjolein has generously offered us some of her time to tell us about her student experience, path to Deloitte and impression of the company. She has been working there for more than two years now, currently in the IT Strategy Consulting service line.
Marjolein finished a double bachelor’s in Economics and Law at the Erasmus University in 2015. She also did two masters, namely Business Information Management at RSM and Information Law at the University of Amsterdam. Her internship was at Sustainalize, which consulted companies on how to make their business more sustainable. She was an active member of EFR: after three committees, she did a full-time board year as Marketing Officer between 2013 and 2014. She told us that her experience was very positive – she made friends for life that she still meets up with on a regular basis. Besides the immense networking opportunity, she believes it helped her find where her own interests lay.
An interesting cultural phenomenon – that’s what Marjolein calls the eagerness of Rotterdam students to overload their CV with extracurricular activities. From her experience, this eagerness is typical for Rotterdam and a lot less present in other student cities. She advices ‘A hundred committees and extra work are not needed, you can still get a good job without the full checklist’. However, the extras are fun to do and give you a better idea of what you may want to professionalize in. Besides, they can shape you, offering the needed soft skills, like being able to work in a team and communicate efficiently. To this, I proceeded to ask how one can then prove they have the right experience in lack of a long list of extracurriculars. Marjolein’s response was straightforward: the STAR method. For those unaware of the method, it works best in interviews when, besides naming a skill you have (let’s say... analytical skills), you can also exemplify it by bringing up a specific situation you dealt with in the past, what your task was, how you acted to solve the issue and the result.
So, why did Marjolein choose Deloitte? She was considering both Accenture and Deloitte and, after visiting both, she decided that the latter was a better fit. It felt casual and informal, like a family. Deloitte has five main functions: Consulting, Audit, Tax, Risk and Financial advisory.
Marjolein joined IT Strategy, which is a good fit with Business Information Management. But there are many other teams that are a good fit for Economics students. Especially because Deloitte values personal motivation a lot, so if you haven’t done the ‘perfect’ studies for a certain team, but you do have a good story on why you want to do it, you can still get the job. Another tip: try to talk to people from different functions, meet over a coffee with current employees and ask for their experiences. For Marjolein the application process consisted of a CV screening, interview and a four-day Business Course in Barcelona in the form of a client case study. Definitely an awesome experience if you get a chance to join!
A question that was on our mind was whether English-speaking students have a harder time at the company, and Marjolein was quick to explain that they have quite a few opportunities for internships, but it can be more challenging for international graduates to find a real job at Deloitte in the Netherlands. Most of their projects rely on or would be facilitated by understanding Dutch to a certain degree. Diversity and Inclusion is one of the key focus areas for Deloitte, so the atmosphere is definitely welcoming to internationals.
What about working at Deloitte? Well, Marjolein admitted that no day is the same. She works on various projects which take from six weeks up to three months and usually involve translating a business strategy into an IT strategy. The student-to-working life transition can be challenging and can take a few months to get used to. You get less free time, around 1 or 2 days for friends and family but here’s the good news! Marjolein finds Deloitte an extension of her student experience, given that the average age is ~30 and they still have drinks every Friday. ‘Everyone is in the same boat, everyone is figuring it out’, says Marjolein. More, she’s confident that it’s up to the employees to make the most out of their experience by stepping up and asking about available trainings and opportunities. ‘It’s an opportunity to shape your projects and yourself’, she tells us enthusiastically.
For us, the interview with Marjolein was, to a certain extent, a relief. We went in there believing that a career at one of the Big Four would put the freedom we got used to as students to a clear stop. After all, that seems to be the common perception among students. However, that’s not a given. The safest bet is to go for a company that matches your expectations and needs, and for that you may really want to reach out to employees and ask for further contacts. Don’t be afraid to take charge! In the end, we’re all starting from ‘scratch’, as EFR board or committee members, as Erasmus University students, as the employees or the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, figuring and working our way up.