Do Your Research Starting with Vault.com
The first part of the internship search process is understanding that homework doesn’t end with college. In fact, homework should be part of your lifelong quest as you advance through your career and explore new job positions, companies, and goals. The more homework you commit to before a big life change, the more successful you will be.
Think about it; every time you spend 5 or 10 minutes reading an article about a company that interests you, you are now more enriched and knowledgeable on the topic than your competitor, who didn’t read the article. This is free information, right at your disposal, that can be leveraged in the most impactful way possible.
Just as I mentioned above, I am convinced bringing up that KPMG story during my interview landed me the position. If you were the interviewer, wouldn’t you opt with the applicant whom already seems like part of the company family? Of course you would!
So where does one go to find this kind of insider information? Although the Internet is a great resource for finding the latest information on the firm’s accomplishments, events, and announcements, you can’t necessarily find the important, personal information, like the pros and cons of working there, as well as the personal employee testimonies. You need to have access to this kind of intimate information that isn’t exactly easy to come by.
That’s why I can’t recommend Vault.com enough.
Vault.com: The Basics
In essence, Vault.com is a directory on every major company in the world, providing you with testimonials, insight, and personal stories regarding the people that work there. With this site, you can get a feel for the company culture, and what you can expect working with their team. As their home page tagline states, “Find out what it’s really like to work within an industry, company, or profession, and how to position yourself to start, advance, or change your career.”
Vault.com is for more than just internships; it’s a place where people can go to pivot in their professional lives and start a new career. Maybe you have a job, and you want to know what else is out there. Or maybe, you’re just getting started, and you need some extra “juice” in the interviewing process.
Our Example: PwC
Right at the top of the page, you can search for a company. Let’s use a KPMG competitor, PwC, as an example for this chapter.
After you click on their listing, you land on their company profile. Immediately, you will see the full company name (PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC). Below this name you will see a section that says “related internships” with a hyperlink that goes to PwC Summer Internship Programs. Now, if you don’t click on this link, you can continue to look at the regular profile for the company, its rankings, and so forth (we will come back to this in a few paragraphs).
But for the purposes of this e-book, you’re hungry to get your hands on the perfect internship. So click on that link!
Vault.com then provides you with three major rankings right at the top of the page to help you gage a company’s prominence and reception. For the PwC program, we see the following:
#6 Best Consulting Internships
#12 Best Accounting Internships
#30 Most Prestigious Internships
These rankings don’t mean much until you compare them to another company. Let’s look at KPMG’s Internship Program stats:
#7 Best Consulting Internships
#13 Best Accounting Internships
#45 Most Prestigious Internships
As you can see, PwC has a higher ranking than their KPMG counterpart. Check out some more companies until you get a good feel for where each company lands. This is a great way to start to weed out programs that may have poor rankings, or not quite be up to your standards. You can view more rankings below the big ones if you want to know more about the company.
Scroll down and view the “About PwC Summer Internship Program.” Here is where you will learn about the nuts and bolts of the program, which is highly important to consider. For PwC, there are two internship programs: Advance and Start. Advance is a professional internship for undergraduates and MBAs. Start is an introductory internship that can be completed in the middle of college, helping students to further develop their skills and experience the corporate setting.
With this information, you now know you should apply to Start while still in college, and Advance once you graduate college. This is your best bet for outshining the competition. The description goes onto describe training, client experiences, and leadership development potential, as well as shadowing experiences in which you get to observe your superiors in a typical work day. This is a great internship structure because you now know you’ll be receiving first-hand exposure that will either make or break your career trajectory. None of us want to end up in a job that we hate!
The section goes onto describe community service options, intern events, international internships, and travel capabilities to PwC conferences, and so forth.
It’s important to read about other interns’ experience in the program before you apply. Back at the top of the profile, click on “Intern Reviews.” A long list of reviews will appear in which previous interns share their likes and dislikes. PwC has a 4.5 out of 5-star average, which is near perfect for a company. The first review present today states that there is a lot of opportunity to grow and abound from this internship, as well as extensive training. However, they said it can be frustrating having no say over what you get to do there. Lastly, they sum it up by stating, “Network aggressively. This firm is all about who you know.”
That is a huge pointer! This should help you structure your outreach approach to landing the internship. You now know that reaching out to people directly on LinkedIn, attending PwC sanctioned events, and so forth is a great way to get an one-up on the competition.
Finally, at the top of the profile is the third and final tab: How to Apply. The application process, deadline, and contact information is presented neatly for you to access.
Back to the Regular Profile
Now that you have mastered the Internship Program Company Profile, go back to the main PwC profile. There is an important tab on this page that you can not find on the internship page, and that is the, “Why Work Here?” This is where you watch videos from people that currently work at PwC and learn about their stories. It was this precise feature that provided me with the information I shared in my interview, sitting across from a person I had just watched in a Vault.com video.
There are dozens of videos, between 2 to 3 minutes long, that cover a variety of elements related to working for PwC. I recommend watching all of the videos, possibly twice, so that you can remember some of their stories, as well as the faces telling the stories. You never know who is going to sit down across from you in that internship interview!
After you view all of the videos, the last and final tab for you to explore at the top is “Survey Says.” This is where Vault.com comes into the picture. They provide their own verdict that breaks down the good and the bad of the company, based on the thousands of reviews, entries, data points, and so forth. The review looks at Firm Culture, Quality of Life, Career Development, Compensation, Outlook, Hiring Process, and Interview Tips and Questions. This is a place where you can find specific questions common in PwC interviews that might not be common in other interviews. It’s your personal cheat sheet that you will definitely not want to pass up.
The best part of all of this is that Vault.com is completely free if you sign up for their platform through our HonorSociety.org website. We understand how important this information is for positioning you successfully the moment you walk through those interview doors. I would not be where I am today without the initial interviewing success I had following my Vault.com deep dive.
It’s a homework-oriented habit you will want to develop for all subsequent job hunts, especially after the completion of your internship.