Sarah Weingarten graduated from St Andrews in 2012 with an MA in English and Economics. With little prior experience in finance, she secured a place on the Virgin Media finance graduate scheme. In an interview with The Saint, Sarah spoke about the process of applying for graduate jobs and her experience of working for Virgin Media.
“I’m on the finance graduate scheme but for my first placement I’m like an assistant accountant. I’m the only English major on my scheme but people studied all different things. One guy on my scheme, Tom, was a Zoology major! It’s not about the degree, it’s about applying the skills it’s given you in creative ways. I had no accounting or business experience before I applied, beyond basic maths. For most business roles anything can be learned and should be learned in the office, so getting the job itself was more about soft skills like communication and work ethic. If I could go back in time, I’d definitely choose English again because not only is it something I love but the skills it gave me are versatile and applicable anywhere. The same goes for any arts degree – if you’re organized and personable you’ll go far.”
“In the summer of my 3rd year I volunteered with a non-profit education company as a summer SAT coach, so even though it wasn’t business-related it still helped hone those public-speaking and organizational skills. When it came to 4th year, I applied for a lot of graduate positions. I’ve tried to repress that horrible few months… I’m guessing between 10 and 15? I applied for literally anything and everything; you don’t know until you go for it.”
“My advice is to have a plan and a system and start early. Don’t shy away from applying for something outside your comfort zone. Push yourself to move outside the immediate scope of your degree – for example, I focused less on what I did as an English major and more on how I went about doing it.”
“Working for Virgin is challenging, rewarding, and insanely fun.The people are fantastic; really supportive, fun, and keen to see the entire team succeed. Maybe I’m a huge loser but I seriously love my job so much. I guess that first entering the working world is a really steep learning curve both intellectually and emotionally, and there have been a few 12-hour days, so it hasn’t always been easy. But it’s worth it 100%.”
Virgin Media has been in the spotlight this month because of a £15bn takeover bid from the US-based telecommunications giant Liberty Global. The company, formed in 2006 from the merger of NTL and Telewest, has also recently announced the creation of 400 new jobs in the UK.