Working Abroad

Written by | Opinion

My experience of working abroad has been extremely gratifying. I decided to apply to a company abroad while doing my Masters, as I was sure I wanted to have the experience. The idea of coming to a new country was a bit scary but mostly exciting: scary because I would have my first working experience using a language other than my first one and I would be far from family and friends; but exciting because I knew I would have the chance to improve it, to meet new people and make new friends.

I joined the KPMG Cambridge office as part of the Audit Graduate Programme that lasts three years and I have been making some good friends as we spend lots of time together. One of the good things you discover while going abroad is that many people will be in the exact same situation, also coming from their countries and feeling the same as you. It is then a question of making the most of it!

I did not come alone. When you go to a restaurant to watch a Benfica – Porto game and you see two tables with 20 people each and every one was a student at NOVA, you realise you are definitely not alone! Even with really good international friends, it will always feel a bit like home when you can speak in Portuguese with people you already knew from university.

There are some things I particularly value in working at KPMG in Cambridge. First and the most important, people are very respectful of your personal life. You may have lots of work, however you also have your personal compromises and no one would ever challenge that. With this I mean people wouldn’t draw wrong conclusions if you leave work when you are supposed to if you have your things done, as for them it means you are efficient and quick. Secondly, audits are normally for short periods of time, which means that each week you’ll be working for a new client, new industry and new place. This gives you the opportunity to understand which type of industry you’d like to work the most! I have worked for clients in diverse industries such as construction, racehorse breeding, transportation/logistics, energy, technological, colleges and many others. Finally, the British culture is extremely organised and you would never be asked to do an urgent task that needs to be completed as soon as possible. Teams plan the audits/projects well in advance and delegate tasks to everyone, and therefore you can manage your time and work as long as you finish it. This helps keeping the audits on track, avoiding delays and late nights of work.

The last thing I would like to mention is that being a student at NOVA particularly in the Masters was one of the most important things for this experience to be successful. The preparation we receive there, both in terms of knowledge and English language skills, is a great help when you have your first work experience. Additionally, the group projects may seem too many right now but they are certainly helping you improving your team work skills which will be used every day at work!

This is a small insight of how it is to work abroad and I hope you also have your own experience!


Marta Gonçalves Serra

Marta has an undergraduate degree in Management and a Masters in Management with major in Strategy, both done at NOVA SBE. She was teaching assistant of Statistics, Algebra and Data Analysis and Probability for two years at NOVA, while doing her Masters. She was also part of the NOVA Junior Enterprise during the period 2011-2013.
She now works in Cambridge, as an Audit Assistant at KPMG UK and is part of the Social Committee of the office, responsible for organising events such as watching horse races, drinks after work and paintballing. She loves to play tennis, padel and hang out with friends.

Last modified: 21/10/2017