About every two months, Campus 19 organizes a visit to one of its sponsoring companies for students to get a better idea of the working field. This month I got to join a visit to Deloitte. They are one of the last companies I would see myself work for, and that is precisely why I joined.
A first impression
We met in front of their office at Brussels Airport. We started with a half-hour long tour through their complex. After entering the building we got in the central atrium. It all looked very sleek, the floor was made of stone, but there were also plenty circled benches with plants in them. A lot of glass and you could look all the way up to the last floor.
A nice and smiling, typically Flemish young lady did a really good job on showing us the different parts that would be relevant for future code interns like us. She showed us the canteen, a food corner, the internal IT department for when your laptop has crashed, but also their own gym in the basement and their very own pub. She really was selling every one of them up to the point it was unnoticeably awkward. Examples: "You can go to lunch at any time of the day, unless you have meeting of course haha.", "You should really try out the spaghetti bolognaise, it's so good.", "You can see on the screen what times the airplanes are leaving to where and how the weather is at that destination, amazing right?"
She wasn't eniterly lying, seeing all these facilities, it seemed like a nice place to work indeed. But it also made me a bit suspicious, because what was the exaggeration for? It couldn't be that she worked there, just because she liked the pasta they made, could it? And why was she drawing so much attention to these details?
The actual work
We learned about the actual work at Deloitte when we got introduced to three tech employees and one HR manager after the tour. In a big, sleek and rigid meeting room with a lot of unnatural light we learned that all of them were graduates from 19, working in different fields for the company. They talked and answered our questions about how their days at work looked like, what tools and processes they had to work together, what resources they had and used for the solutions they implemented. Only one of them really went in depth about a recent project he had done and explained how the system he had designed – or was it his manager and did he only do the implementation? This wasn't so clear, but I didn't dare to ask.
As smooth as butter
I did ask one question. After having a small group fellow students having asked rather uninteresting questions to me, I felt it was time to get out of my own comfort zone and ask the question that makes up the most part of a decision to work for one employer of the other: the salary.
I know that in many corporate environments to talk about your salary is still a taboo and I think it tells something about the company culture. So I expected there to be a little shock and discomfort from the Deloitte employees, but none of that happened. Of course there was some commotion in the student audience, but from their side they handled it very smoothly, just like anything that day. The HR manager used the moment to take the opportunity in answering my question before one of his technical colleagues could, one of them seemed willing to honestly answer, by responding with a question: "Net or gross"?
The HR manager didn't give any sign of disapproval for this question and instead played it very nicely by putting that the salaries got "benchmarked with what other consultancy firms pay" and made a sum of all the bonuses and things for stuff like lunch and a car for work. 15 minutes later, when we went to a more informal setting with snacks and drinks and people were talking in smaller groups, one of the tech guys gave enough information about his salary so that we could reconstruct how much their net income was.
Our conclusion: Between 2500 and 2800 per month. Not as much as I expected. Apparently you get paid less in consultancy than you probably would when being in a fixed position at one of their (corporate) clients.
Admittedly, the entire day felt very professionally organized, which wasn't unexpected. I also got the impression that the people that we met that day were having a calm and casual day and didn't seem to try too hard into having us onboard. This was different from other visits with 19 to SDworkx and Hubo, for example.
It also stood out to me that everybody that day behaved very charismatic and presentable, including the 3 technical employees. Like they all fit a picture. They explained that an important part of the interview process is in soft skills: presenting, story telling and collaboration. I think they take it very seriously indeed.
In conclusion, I am happy that I joined this visit. I see myself as a skeptic of consultancy firms like Deloitte and big corporations in general – I doubt their added value to society and I don't necessarily why one would want to work for one, when having other options. Nonetheless, (or maybe precisely so) it was very valuable and a great privilege to be able to have a look at such a place, as it helps to get a better picture of what our modern world looks like. It also made this mysterious world within our world much more approachable and entering it feels much more achievable for me. In fact, during the visit, I was seriously considering applying for an internship or position there as something for me.
Maybe not anymore at the time of writing this. Unless I will get in the position to feel the need of collecting the token of 'having worked at a big corporation like Deloitte' – which I hopefully never will – I don't think it makes any sense to take this path.
On a personal level, I think that my peek into this world, took away some fuel for my prejudice and skepsis towards Deloitte. Like with many things, once you understand it better and it doesn't feel so far away from you, envy towards it decreases.