28 Apr 2023
In his first semester at UniSC, Nicholas “Nick” Hill says he suffered from a lack of confidence and self-esteem which made him wonder if he’d get though uni. Now, he's preparing to graduate with a degree in commerce (accounting) and has already secured a graduate position with one of the biggest accountancy firms in Australia.
In high school, Nick thought confidence was a trait you were born with, as much a predetermined genetic condition as say, one’s eye colour.
“You either had confidence or you didn't,” he says. “I labelled myself as someone who didn’t have it. But at uni, I discovered confidence can be learned. The first step is always the hardest. Students become different people from their first year to who they are in their second, third and fourth years.”
After thinking he may not make it through his first semester, Nick is now ticking off a list of successes as he approaches the graduation finish line, including already securing a job with KPMG, which he’ll commence at the start of next year.
“What I love about accounting is you can do 1000 different things with it, and it can also be a creative process,” Nick says. “The more I got into it, the more I realised this was the right career path I had chosen.”
In mid-2022, Nick had the sudden realisation he was only a year away from finishing his degree. He spoke to a career advisor at UniSC's Work Experience Scheme office, who directed him to an online portal that helps UniSC students find and manage work experience and placement opportunities.
“I went manic for about a week applying to as many places as I could, including KPMG, and for every position I applied to I had to do a number of psychometric tests” Nick says. “A few months went by without news, and I started thinking the worst.
“Then suddenly, late on a Tuesday evening, I got a call from KPMG saying ‘Congratulations, you've moved to the interview stage.’
“I was so surprised I almost hung up on them,” Nick laughs. “I said, ‘can you repeat that please?’ The voice said, ‘This is KPMG, and you are invited to an interview on Thursday.’
"I was like, ‘This is amazing…thank you so much! I'll be there!’ I had the interview at 2.30pm that Thursday, and at 5:30pm the same day I was offered a two-month position in the vacation program.”
Nick says he was ecstatic, lots of excitement mixed in with a “little bit of panic.”
“On the first day I arrived at the office in full suit and tie, dressed up head to toe. But then I met my ‘buddy,’ an analyst who'd been with the firm for over a year. He said, ‘Look, it’s great that you're trying, but we also understand you can't wear a suit and tie every day.’ After that I wore smart casual.”
The internship experience, says Nick, was amazing.
“The team were so welcoming. They said, ‘It will be an intense learning experience and we expect quality work, but don’t stress because our senior analysts will be there as your safety net. You're an intern, you're here to learn.’
“University prepared me well, because, as an intern at KPMG, I was ready to do whatever they needed me to do. At uni you learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable; you're given new subjects and assessments every semester and you must adapt and apply what you learn into assignments.”
During his internship, Nick says he realised auditors need interpersonal skills. “The team I was in had at least 15 to 20 members, and you have to mingle and be willing to talk to everyone, from financial analysts to the head of finances, business owners, managers, and staff, so you have to have those soft people skills, integrity and trustworthiness.”
On his final day as an intern, Nick met with a senior partner. “They said, ‘You’ve ticked all our boxes, we hope we've ticked yours; we want to offer you a position when you graduate.’”
Nick says it is “just incredible” to know he has already secured a position at KPMG, specialising in the audit sector. “I can’t stress enough how valuable work placements are,” he says. “The experience is fantastic for future employment because there’s nothing like hands-on learning to give you the big picture.”
"I also went through the Diplomatic Leadership Program run by CIDSEL, and that was a major influence in my confidence growth and in seeking opportunities," he says. "I highly encourage anyone to join in the next time CIDSEL runs their program."
Work Integrated Learning at UniSC
Whether it’s called an internship, practicum, placement, clinical placement, project, wider field experience, professional experience, professional practice or work experience, most UniSC degrees have opportunities for Work Integrated Learning (WIL).
Bachelor of Business/Commerce (Accounting)
Across all industries, sound financial management is one of the keys to business success. In this flexible double degree, you’ll gain an accredited accounting qualification and choose to specialise in the areas of business that most interest you.