Hi, I’m Holly. I’m a third year BSc Accounting, Business Management and Finance student. My year in industry is with Baker Hughes, a GE company, which makes tools for the oil and gas industry. I joined GE in a financial controllership role but have recently taken on accounts receivable responsibilities too.
To be completely honest, I didn’t specifically choose this placement. I applied to between 20 and 30 placements in total if they met my vague criteria, which was a finance role close to home. I knew that I wanted to do a finance placement because of the degree I am doing, but that was pretty much it. Living at home and having my meals cooked for me was the only way I was going to survive working full time for the first time!
I used RateMyPlacement religiously whilst searching and honestly think it is the best way to find a placement. I did also use TARGETjobs but didn’t find this to be as user friendly.
Additionally, some companies don’t advertise their placements on job board websites… I used the Times top 100 graduate employers to have a look at the sorts of companies I might want to work for. Then, I searched for placements specifically on their websites. I was fortunate that GE was my first interview and they offered me the job soon after.
Applying for placements
Once I had written my CV and cover letter, the placement team looked over them and gave me so much advice on how I could make them better. The timetabled placement sessions improved my understanding of the application process and helped me know what to expect. I felt confident when applying to companies that my CV and cover letter were the best they could be.
The placement team were also so encouraging and motivating at times when I felt a bit defeated. Applying for placements is hard work and requires a big time commitment and so can feel disheartening when you receive rejections. So the encouragement and sympathy was very much appreciated!
If I could give one bit of advice when applying to placements, it would be to not give up and get disheartened if you’re struggling with the psychometric tests. I found the numerical tests to be the hardest part of the application process and didn’t get past this stage for so many companies. You just need to keep trying and practicing and you will improve and get a placement eventually.
A day in the life
In finance, it’s not very common to have a ‘normal’ day as there are always different things going on. It also hugely depends on the time of the year/ month. It’s always super busy at the end of the month and quarter. I have also found that I tend to be much busier at the start of the week. But for the sake of this, this is what a typical day might look like for me…
- 9.00 – 9.10am Get into the office, chat with my colleagues and have a coffee!
- 9.10 – 9.30am Send out the daily cash receipts. This is looking at what our customers have paid and matching it off against outstanding amounts owed to us. I then send this out to the cash collectors so they know what’s still to pay.
- 9.30 – 11.00am Respond to my emails. Doing two roles means I get a lot of emails and spend a lot of time filtering through them! I regularly receive emails from customers who have issues with invoices we have sent them. For example, they may be disputing the amount they owe us, or may want to see further documentation before they pay.
- 11:00 – 12:00am Cycle Count. Once a week, myself and the other finance intern have to go downstairs to the stores room on the shop floor to do a cycle count. This is like an internal audit and we have to count 10 different parts each. These parts range from tiny screws and bolts to circuit boards and springs. These are all used by the engineers to build the tools that we sell to our customers. This weekly cycle count is important because it allows us to double-check that our stock reports are accurate.
- 12.00 – 12.30pm Intercompany Call. These calls occur at the end of every quarter and sometimes at the end of the month. This about how we report our transactions with other business within GE. As a controllership intern, management of this process is one of my responsibilities.
- 12.30 – 1.30pm Lunch with the other interns.
- 1.30 – 2.00pm More emails.
- 2.00 – 3.00pm Cash Call. This call is with the cash collectors for a specific region. The purpose is to find out where they are at with chasing customer payments. It allows me to establish when we can expect to receive payments and chase slow paying customers. We also discuss putting measures in place for slow paying customers such as advanced payments.
- 3.00 – 4.30pm Account Reconciliations. This is a key part of my role and has to be done every month. It is about matching the amount we have in the bank with what we have in our books, reporting the movements of cash and explaining why there may be differences. For example, if the bank balance is a higher value than our books show, it may be because we haven’t posted something to our books.
- 4.30 – 5.30pm Send out the invoices. This is a daily task that is quite repetitive but very important. Some of the customers are happy to get invoices via email, while others require us to post them or send via tracked delivery.
- 5.30pm Home time!
The best part about my placement is that I have real responsibility, so I really feel like I am helping the company.
I also like that I get to work in a small team whilst still getting the benefits of being part of a huge multinational organisation. Being part of a small finance team has allowed me to gain an understanding of all areas of finance and has maximised my learning experience.
I also enjoy the nature of the site that I work on. I work in an office environment, but the floor below me is where all the manufacturing takes place. This has been really rewarding as I am able to see the entire business operation – from the products being designed in the technology department, to being made downstairs, then tested and finally sent out to customers. I have learnt so much about the oil and gas industry and the oil extraction process, which has been very interesting.
There is very little I dislike about my placement. Although some tasks that are quite boring and repetitive, they are important and someone has got to do them! I would say that the downside of working in a small team is that there is less chance for teamwork. I am the only person who does the role that I do, so most of my work is independent.
Opportunities and experiences
I think that one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about my placement so far has been the opportunity to get involved with other activities outside of my role.
I have become heavily involved with a GE initiative called GirlsGetSet, which aims to get more school aged girls into STEM subjects and careers. The site that I work at is partnered with a local girls school. Over the last month, I have organised visits to our site for all five of the year 7 forms. Each form came for about 2 hours. While they were here, they took a tour of the shop floor and the technology department. This is an initiative close to my heart as I feel that girls (and boys) should have the choice to go into any career they’d like and have resources available to them to make this possible. So, I have found this work extremely rewarding.
I have learnt an endless number of things so far. From learning about different finance functions, to how a multi-industry company like GE operates, to learning about the oil extraction process and what the tools that we produce do! My placement has confirmed to me that I do want a career in finance when I graduate.
Studying at York
I chose York because it is a highly-regarded university and I was really attracted to the city. It is a beautiful city and a great place to be a student and have fun, whilst also feeling safe.
I also love how supportive and friendly everyone in the Management School is. I received so much support and encouragement whilst applying for placements and have continued to receive this whilst on my year in industry.