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The University of Southampton
Southampton Business School

Jake Gardener BSc Accounting and Finance with placement year, 2018

Audit Associate at Grant Thornton LLP

Jake Gardener's Photo

Southampton is a great city, offering a very youthful culture (two different universities), fantastic nightlife, and everything you would need to enjoy your time here. It’s become a home away from home.

The facilities at the university are top tier, from the state of the art Jubilee Sports Centre, to the excellent study spaces in Hartley Library, you’ll find everything you need is provided for you. There’s also a heavy emphasis on development, so you’ll see various new buildings created throughout your time here.


I’ve most enjoyed seeing how the topics I’ve studied in first and second year were relevant in the workplace during my placement year at Walt Disney. For example, Portfolio Theory helped me to understand foreign exchange rates, which I used frequently in my role.

By studying a degree in whichever field, you’ll learn vital skills such as time management and research, whilst also developing as a person through increased confidence and self-motivation. Whatever you decide to do after university, a degree will help you with your goals. 

During my time at Southampton I've been a social secretary for the Business Society, which involved organising events for students across the campus such as Wolf of Wall Street Christmas parties and Boat Balls. Another highlight would be Varsity, whether you’re involved or just spectating, it’s great to cheer the University along.

An experience I'll never forget is my placement year at Walt Disney. I chose Disney because of its reputation and also I wanted to experience finance on a broader scale, as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after university. I worked as a Finance Analyst, which allowed me to gain a new perspective on finance in a non-financial services firm.

The most unexpected thing about my placement was the level of responsibility; In my case I found the idea that a large company results in less responsibility to be a misconception, since I has heavily relied upon by directors and senior management on a daily basis. It was always known that my time had an end date, but even so I felt like a permanent member of the team and it was surreal to leave at the end of the 12 months.

I've now secured a graduate role as an Audit Associate at Grant Thornton LLP, and my immediate ambition is to successfully gain my professional qualifications to become a chartered accountant.

My advice to students would be to take advantage of everything that’s on offer. When you join everyone will be in the same boat, if you’ve got concerns the chances are the person in the room next to you trying to work out the same thing. Try to meet as many people as you can, go out of your comfort zone. It’s true what they say, the friends you make at University or friends you have for life.

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