The Diary of a Finance Graduate
Meet Laura (Hi Laura!) our 2016 Finance Graduate, she’ll be giving us the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a grad here at Virgin Media…
Week 1-3: Starting the Finance Graduate Scheme
It’s coming to the end of my first month as a graduate at Virgin Media and it has literally flown by! It all started with an induction at a gorgeous hotel near the Hook office. This was great fun as we got to meet graduates from different schemes, and learn about the company and its core values without jumping straight into the office.
After learning a lot during the day, Virgin got us all together for a social in the evening – pizza, beer and bowling, what else could you want after your first day?! It was really good fun getting to know everyone, and find out who is secretly really competitive…
On the Wednesday I started in the office. I didn’t feel too nervous because I knew I’d be bumping into some of the graduates I’d met at the induction and I’d already found out something amazing about the VM company culture – everyone has the time of day to help and talk to you if you need it. On top of that, I guess it didn’t feel totally new and scary because throughout the summer, Virgin made a real effort to stay in touch and help us feel prepared for what was about to come!
The first 2 weeks were challenging, I felt at times I would never be able to learn the acronyms, speak the jargon and be able to complete my role without pestering the previous graduate! But now just under 4 weeks in, I arrive at work and I just get stuck into it! It’s unbelievable how fast you pick it up, settle into your team and start to add value to your role.
Adjusting to life after university can be hard, the days feel longer (because you actually have to get out of bed…), and moving away can be terrifying. I am based in Hammersmith and the thought of moving to London excited me but also made me feel a bit anxious. I didn’t know if it would be too busy, if I would miss home, if I would be able to afford it… but it truly is amazing! I am never bored, actually, when I get an hour where I’m not doing anything I make the most of it because life in London just doesn’t seem to stop – it’s so exciting!
So my advice to a new starter is to talk to anyone and everyone, get stuck into your role, ask loads of questions, don’t feel daft if you don’t understand and most importantly, make sure you get enough sleep!
Week 4-6: My First (Super Busy) Month!
This past month has been a whirlwind and I feel like I have learned so much! I’m no longer nervously saying hi to people I walk past in the office and I have settled into my team, both my colleagues in Hammersmith and in the Hook office. My department, Group Business Intelligence, requires visits to Hook sometimes so I can attend meetings with the rest of the team and complete vital training for my role.
I am constantly learning and taking on new tasks which keep things exciting. Not one day has felt repetitive and monotonous, and I have been challenged to a great level – one where I feel motivated rather than stressed and overloaded! It is a steep learning curve but that is expected in any new job, here you are given the support and confidence to really hit the ground running and adjust.
The greatest challenge I faced this month was when a colleague who I rely on to ask questions went on Holiday! On top of being jealous (because after working for just one month I felt I deserved a sunny break too…) I was worried I would struggle to meet deadlines and get through my tasks if I came across something I didn’t understand while he was away. It turns out I was fine! It’s almost surprising how much you remember yourself without realising.
Within a matter of weeks here at Virgin I have taken on a huge responsibility, including emailing the CEO a weekly commentary of the business, analysing the movements of VM’s customer base and producing data to show the company’s performance in the week. Yes, sometimes I have to email the previous graduate when my mind has gone blank, but she is always so helpful and reassuring.
Tomorrow, I and some of the other graduates in my team are heading out with the engineers in the field, wearing our steel capped boots and riding in the van. I’m looking forward to seeing how Virgin Media operates outside of the office and actually installs our products. It will be an interesting way to end a busy month and to broaden my understanding of the company.
Week 7-9: Highlights so far... and the start of CIMA!
Woah – another month gone! It’s scary how fast time goes when you start working full-time. I think it’s a combination of the fast paced industry, the fact you’re busy whilst enjoying your work and also, maybe because I now look forward to the weekend?! I never understood why my friends who weren’t at university were so obsessed with Friday…
This month I had some really interesting days starting with a day out in the van with the engineers. The engineer who took me out was fab, he made me feel really welcome and even pointed out some of the celebrity’s houses in Chelsea! I got to see first-hand how Virgin Media’s internet and TV boxes are installed which was really interesting to me, because when I was in the office and looking at volumes of installs completed, I couldn’t picture the process and didn’t have any background knowledge. Taking a snapchat selfie without the engineer noticing was pretty tricky but I got there in the end.
Another really interesting day for me was when I covered my superior in a weekly meeting with finance directors and senior managers. At first, I was really nervous and almost didn’t want to accept the challenge, but as soon as I started talking I realised it was fine! I had done enough preparation, if not a little too much, and it went well. It’s important to have self-confidence, even though I am still relatively new, reflecting on what I’ve learnt and achieved so far is quite surprising.
This month I also started studying towards my first CIMA exam. At first, all sorts of worries started going through my mind! The content seemed overwhelming, especially as I don’t have all day to spend revising like you do at university. However, once I got stuck in and created a timetable I need to stick to, it all seemed a little less scary. I’ve been finding time to do a little bit each day so it doesn’t overload my brain with information. So far this technique is working well! But I guess closer to the exam I might have some different advice!
Week 10-14: December Time!
Well, what a month December was! Virgin know how to throw a Christmas party, or two! The build up to Christmas and New Year was so fun, spirits were high in the office and everyone works together to ensure everything is complete ready for the break.
December started with our graduate charity day for Scope. We took over the shop in Camden and did lots of different fundraising activities over the weeks! A teammate and I held buckets outside Hammersmith station, as daunting as that was at first; we managed to raise £160! Of course, many Londoners walked past us without glancing up from their phone, but some really heartwarming commuters stopped for a chat and donated to a great cause!
As it came to the end of December, the office emptied and people returned home for the Christmas break. This was really exciting and I had missed some home comforts! My suitcase was particularly heavy as my first CIMA exam was shortly after the New Year and I had all my books with me. Similarly to a Christmas break while you are at University, I had to manage my time between eating, socialising and studying… However, the workload was more manageable as I only had one exam to focus on, instead of 5 or 6! All the hard work paid off in the end and I am happy to say I passed my first exam despite all the nerves!
It is back to business as usual now in the office and starting new projects alongside this. Virgin are always keeping me on my toes and ensuring my role is enjoyable. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of January brings and what new things I can learn!
An update: 6 Months In!
I cannot believe that I am now 6 months into my first rotation; it has gone by so quickly! Reflecting on my time here at Virgin Media it’s incredible how much I have learned about the business and the industry, I remember when I first started and how overwhelmed I felt, especially in this role! Group BI has a high-level overview of the whole business and I really feel this has helped enhance my understanding.
This month a few of us graduates made our way down to Swansea to one of the contact centers. I was really looking forward to this because I had a chance to hire a car and have a cute little road trip! I have to say, after 6 months of not driving because of living in London; I might have accidently stalled the car 4 or 5 times before even pulling out of the car park J The call center was a brilliant day, we got to listen in on the calls to technical support, care and even the calls from customers wishing to leave the business. The contact employees were amazing! They were friendly, helpful and really engaging on the phone, I saw the Virgin spirt on the front line and it was great to see first-hand how this area of the business works.
I feel that what I learned on the day is useful in my role and helps to understand the figures I am reporting and analysing, I thoroughly recommend that given the chance, you take the time to visit a call center and a trip with the engineer!
At the end of this month I will be sitting my second CIMA exam, wahoo! It’s time to make sure that I keep to my strict timings and strike a good balance between work, studying and of course socialising and down-time. Studying whilst working full time doesn’t mean you can’t also have a life outside of work so don’t worry that it might become too much, because with the support from Virgin and a generous study leave allocation, it is doable and extremely rewarding.
My first year completed
An amazing year has absolutely flown by and I am now settling into my next rotation, accounting for power in the Network department! I am now based in the Hook office in Hampshire and meeting a whole bunch of new stakeholders and suppliers, expanding my network within Virgin Media and getting to learn a LOT about a technical area of the business.
The graduate scheme is so helpful with the house move, which can sometimes be a stressful situation. We are given adequate time to find, view and secure a new home. Now I’m settled into my new flat I am straight into the next CIMA exam, P2. It’s surprising how many exams you can get through when you put your mind to it, with each pass motivating you even more to do the next one!
Something I felt was pretty special in the past year was the finance graduate community. Moving to a new city can be daunting, but everyone in the scheme whether first or third year made me feel welcome and I have now made some really good friends. Virgin Media are great at getting us graduates together, whether it’s the quarterly finance grad meeting (always followed by drinks…) or the annual summer event where all schemes attend (this year it had bumper cars)! On top of this, the grads are quite good at arranging our own socials with current and previous graduates; it’s always a great night and a good way to speak to those who aren’t in your intake year.
Another highlight from the past year was the charity day for Scope, dressing up as a purple dragon and raising money on the streets of London! It was so much fun and we all helped a great cause. This will take place in winter of your first year and again, it’s another opportunity for the graduates to work together, although there can be some healthy competition on your teams total raised!
Regarding the role last year, I have learnt some skills that are vital to progress in your career such as senior stakeholder communication and hosting meetings, evolving your work to the pace of change in the business and owning the development of certain metrics for the company scorecard. A fast paced role teaches you how to be agile and adapt to situations, it’s exciting and never monotonous. Working in a Group role really shows you how the different departments of a business are interrelated, I have learnt a lot about Virgin Media and I am thankful for the opportunity in this role.