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Biological SciencesOur alumni

Jackie Essex BSc Biochemistry, 2014

Trainee ACA chartered accountant at Albert Goodman LLP

Jackie Essex's Photo

I chose to study at the university of Southampton due to the excellent facilities on offer and the breadth of topics covered by my course.

My analytical skills developed during my biochemistry course have proved invaluable in my current career as an auditor.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I wanted to do a Biological sciences course that would cover a big range of areas to keep things interesting and to maximise the areas I could potentially go into in the future. The course offered by Southampton was the sort of breadth I was looking for. The campus was of such a size to not be daunting but also exciting enough to mean there was lots to do and everything you could possibly need was on site.

What were your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences)?

My biggest highlight was the staff and lecturers. They were very enthusiastic about their subject areas which made difficult subject areas much more enjoyable and easier to study. They genuinely cared about how you did and were very approachable. They were happy to meet up one on one and go through areas that you needed additional help with. Other highlights would just be the huge range of social events and activities that were constantly available.

What other activities did you take advantage of while at University?

I played lacrosse whilst I was at the university and got involved in the film society. There is such a breadth of activities available so all interests are catered for.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

I most enjoyed the huge range of different methods that were used for learning. It wasn’t just lectures like I was expecting university to be. We had tutorials in small groups that involved debates and discussions, we prepared essays for our tutors which meant we got very focussed personalised feedback. We also did group projects, laboratory sessions, and group presentations.

What have been the highlights of your career to date?

I work as an auditor which means that I get to travel all over the UK attending a huge variety of clients. This allows me to learn about all sorts of different businesses. I also now senior audits which means I take responsibility for the audit field work and manage a team of staff. I have also so far excelled at the ACA exams which are considered to be some of the most difficult exams in the professional word.

How did your time at Southampton help you to grow as a person and help you get to where you are now?

Spending time at university did wonders for my confidence which definitely helped me when it came to applying for jobs and interviewing. The skills I learnt at university were extremely transferable. My analytical skills developed during my biochemistry course have proved invaluable in my current career as an auditor.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

Try everything! There may be activities/sports/societies/social events that you wouldn’t have ordinarily even considered but if you just go along and try it then you may surprise yourself. I never would have even considered playing lacrosse before university but I decided to head along to the taster day and I loved it! Also make sure you create a good balance, work hard but play hard too!

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector?

Try and get experience in the sector whilst you are still at university as this will definitely help get your foot in the door. With 4 months off in the summer it should be possible to do some work experience. But at the same time, don’t spend the whole of final year worrying about trying to get a job and interviewing, enjoy it whilst you’re there. I didn’t start to apply for jobs until I graduated and it was definitely the best decision.

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