“Going into this, I didn’t think there would be too many Black people in this industry, but I did see a few in senior roles. That was a nice surprise, to see that I wouldn’t be alone if I go down this career path.” Prince Chukwu, about to enter his final year of a degree in economics at the University of Sussex, has just completed a six-week internship at ICAEW as part of the 10,000 Black Interns scheme. He was one of three interns who spent their time working across the Institute, learning how the organisation operates and putting together a joint presentation on their final day.
The #10000BlackInterns initiative is designed to help transform the prospects of young Black people in the United Kingdom. The aim is to offer 2,000 internships each year for five consecutive years; these will all be paid, at least at the National Minimum Wage for the region they are in. Partnering with more than 700 firms across more than 20 different sectors, 10,000 Black Interns is delivering internships across a range of internal business functions, from accountancy to utilities. The first intake took place this summer.
Chukwu continues: “I’ve found the internship amazing, because we got to work on lots of different projects at the same time. Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect, but even when we’re in meetings, people ask for our opinions.”
“I’m considering accountancy, consulting or asset management as career options. Doing an internship like this will help narrow my decision. It’s given me a good insight into what accountants do, but I’m still open to options in those other fields.”
The interns have been rotated around the entire business, working with the marketing team, the branding team, and so on. Says Chukwu: “We got exposure to the whole business, but the main thing throughout the whole internship is the UN sustainability goals – it’s a huge project that we have to present at the end of our last week at ICAEW.
“I think marketing was the most appealing area to me. I didn’t think that ICAEW was like any other business, doing marketing and branding – I thought they were literally chartered accountants, and that’s it.”
For Kiarno Yorke, who will soon be going into his third year studying economics and finance at the University of Manchester, working with the events team was the most enjoyable: “They hosted an event about sustainability and how businesses could help. They invited lots of partners of ICAEW: speakers from EY and other firms. It was good to meet people from the different firms and network with them. Also, the setting up process was very interesting.”
Like Chukwu, his experience has been a positive one: “I feel as if I’ve learned a lot about what ICAEW does; it’s exposed me to multiple people’s roles. I see how they all contribute. ICAEW has made me feel welcome. I’ve met some really nice people.”
He continues: “Within my course, I do quite a few accountancy modules, so I think this experience has been what I expected, but I have learned some new things, mainly to do with the work environment. I was aware of the concepts that they have to work with, like income statements and balance sheets, but I wasn’t aware of the CPD that they have to continuously do. Learning about that as a whole was very good.”
While accountancy is something Yorke is considering as a career, the internship hasn’t sealed the deal. He says: “I’m not really sure. I’ve also been considering asset management – managing different clients’ portfolios and building long-term relationships with them. I think that’s something that I’d find interesting. I like working with different people and mixing that with finance, and I feel like accountancy and asset management both do that.
Fego Achakobe has just completed a degree in finance at Durham University. Originally from Nigeria, she intends to stay in England to pursue her career. “I used to come to England every summer,” she says, “so it’s somewhere that’s very familiar to me.
“I found the people at ICAEW were very open. I think they really helped us interns feel welcome. I liked the culture and the environment. Going into a nine-to-five from being at university is quite different, so meeting people that were understanding and helpful was really good.
“I enjoyed my time with the student section because it was something I could personally relate to – it’s something I’m familiar with. I also really liked the academy team – because I already have a background in accounting, just seeing accountancy professionals discuss how certain qualifications are reached and what courses go into the qualification was really interesting.”
If Achakobe chooses accountancy, she’ll be following in her mother’s footsteps. “I think my time at ICAEW has made me want to be an accountant a bit more. My mum opened me up to it. Accounting is a prestigious profession; it’s something that is always going to be there. I think doing this internship has made me realise accounting isn’t boring and rigid, which is the perception most people have.
“I applied for lots of jobs last year, but I’ll try again in the next recruiting season, just see what other options are out there. Last year, I had a dissertation to do, so my mind was on that. Applying for a job is a full-time job, so hopefully now I’ll have a bit more time to focus, research and find out more about what my options are.”
Hazel Garvey, ICAEW’s Managing Director, Education & Training, says: “Kiarno, Prince and Fego have had a real impact in their six weeks here, delivering impressive analysis and fresh insight into topics like sustainability and future skills. By supporting the #10,000BlackInterns programme, ICAEW is providing vital experience for Black university students that they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to gain. Acting collectively, across the profession and with other sectors, we can truly improve the representation of Black talent in professional careers. Our commitment to this programme is one of the ways we, and others, are meeting the Black Talent Charter.” Building on the success of this year’s programme, ICAEW has committed to offering a further three placements in the summer of 2023.
- The process for the 2023 selection of interns starts in September. Find out more about the scheme and how to get involved at 10,000 Black Interns
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