In the Life of Previous Execs: Jessica Pearce

Jessica Pearce, Former Vice-President of WBSS

Jessica’s background is “slightly complicated”, as she puts it. She was born in Sydney, Australia and is half-Italian and half-Australian. Growing up, Jessica’s family moved around a lot because of her dad’s job so she has lived in various parts of the world, such as Australia, England, Abu Dhabi and Switzerland.

Identifying herself as an ‘International Citizen’, Jessica was drawn to Warwick for its vast international community. She chose to pursue a degree in Management because of its flexibility and graduated from Warwick in 2017.

Jessica believed in making the most of her time at Warwick and was actively involved in a multitude of societies. She was the Vice President of WBSS and the President of Warwick Management Society (WMS), where she made significant contributions to the societies and the people around her.

Through her internship experiences, Jessica discovered her passion for Consulting. Currently, Jessica is working as an Associate Consultant at Capgemini, a Technology Consultancy.

We spoke to Jessica about her University experience and find out how she balanced her academics, social life, society commitments while still managing to go to Smack every Tuesday.

Did you enjoy your experience at Warwick University? 

Definitely. I think the international open-mindedness community is something which is really unique. What’s also great about Warwick is that because you are on a campus, it really forces you to try new things. I think if you went to a University in London, you would get so distracted by the city and going out all the time (not that those things don’t happen at Warwick), but because you are on campus, you are really forced to get to know the people around you. It really is the friendships that are carrying your experience at Warwick because the environment is not that stimulating.

“It’s the people, not the place that matters”

What have you gained from your experience?

So, I think that something I learned a lot from being in a place like Warwick is the value of companionship and as tacky as that sounds, it really is true. It’s the people, not the place that matters. Also, I think Warwick teaches you to be comfortable to try out new things because there is such a strong society and sports base.

Now that I’m on the other side of it, I can say it was an amazing experience, but I have no shame admitting that I also found it really hard at certain points because it really felt sometimes very desolate. There were so many times where I was like, “I can’t wait to just get out of here at the end of the term and see something different”. So, I think even though that’s challenging, it forces you to think about how you want to be spending your time.

Jessica with WBSS Executives at Smack, Leamington

What did you learn from your internship experiences?

When I joined Warwick, there was sort of two options, either you go into finance or you go into consulting and I knew that I wasn’t attracted to finance. So, I spent my first summer doing a multitude of small internships. They were about 2-3 weeks long. I did a media-technology startup in Denmark, I did an aviation one, I did a headhunting recruitment one and all of them were only 2-3 weeks long so they were a little insight. They just showed me more what I didn’t like opposed to what I did like. So, I knew I needed something which was going to be social and engaging.

Then, in my second year, I did an internship at a retail consultancy in London called Pragma and I was attracted to that because for a while I thought that I was curious about going into the Fashion or Arts industry in general so I liked the idea of combining that with something more professional like consulting. But, the internship was so boring it drove me up the wall. It was 8 weeks long and literally every day I would go in and I would just count down until lunch and I would count down until I got to leave. It finally taught me the value of “You have to do what you love”. Everyone always says that and it’s so stereotypical but it was really the first time I understood what that meant. I still wasn’t convinced what I wanted to do, but I knew that consulting was the right branch for me.

How was your experience in WBSS? 

So, I think when I joined WBSS, it was more of this mad panic that I had a lot of friends who were applying for Warwick Finance Society and they were telling me about how competitive that process was and how vigorous the interviews were and I kind of felt that I wanted to have that experience as well. I felt they were having such an advantage by going through this whole interview process and trying to gain a position of some prestige. That made me realise I wanted something along that line as well, so I was really going at it just to see what would happen. Very fortunately, I got the call and I was very surprised that I had made it.

WBSS Fresher’s Party 2015

I was in the Socials team in the first year. We definitely didn’t do as many events and they definitely were not on the same scale as the events we do now. I think I organised a total of 4 events in the first year, which is actually quite ridiculous if you think about because it seemed like so much work at that time. What I liked about first year though, since it was quite relaxed, was that I got to know a lot of people in the society and so Pierre (former President of WBSS) would have mentioned how we were kind of the first generation to make an effort to really get to know our year’s group better so we would organise dinners and pre-drinks and I think both Pierre and I really valued that.  We tried to take it to another level of friendship and not just sort of being professional companions.

Also, because the society does become such a big part of your identity whilst you’re at university, you want to feel like you understand what that identity is. You don’t want to just be doing it and not feel truly a part of it. So, first year was very relaxed in that sense and it was always something I looked forward to. I really enjoyed going to the meeting every week because it just brought a bit of structure into my life and it was a great way for me to get to make more friends.

WBSS Recruitment Drive 2016

Then, second year was quite challenging for me because I was president of Warwick Managment Society so I was having to juggle a lot more of my responsibilities, but being in WBSS really made me value the significance of having a good team around you because it just completely revolutionises your perspective on your enjoyment and willingness to work for something if you like the people you’re working with. I think people sometimes underestimate that nowadays with the society because everyone is so great and such strong candidates. There’s such a strong dynamic energy with the freshers now and it seems everyone gets along so well and it was exactly the same for me in second year and I really appreciated that.

Former Vice-President and President of WBSS – Jessica Pearce and Pierre-Alexis Copé

So, I ran against Pierre for President in the second year and it sounds horrible but Pierre and I were kind of battling it out. You know, I had no shame or guilt of not winning because I really saw that Pierre had such a different perspective as to what he wanted to bring and change within the society and we’d already agreed beforehand that we wanted to work together. Both of us were equally committed to wanting to stay a part of the society or at least, I was very committed. I knew that I didn’t want to drop out or something if I didn’t get it. A lot of people tell me, “Oh you took it so well to be able to stay on”. To me, it wasn’t even a question, it was like why would I give up something great, which I enjoy so much and am going to learn so much from, just because I have a different title, it seemed very ridiculous to me.

Then, third year was just a slight chaos. From April until August, it was a very crazy period because we were just trying to think of as many different things that we wanted to do and Pierre really came up with so many unusual and amazing ideas and I was always more on the execution side of things. I wanted to strategise how we were able to do it and look it from a slightly more logistical perspective and it just worked really well for us. Third year was just so great. it was a lot of hard work as everyone says but the team was so amazing. I was lucky enough to get along well with the freshers and I made an effort to integrate with them. I think a lot of people who don’t get as much out of WBSS sort of stick to their friendship group within the society, whereas the people who go out of their way to get to know everyone and every year group are those who gain the most because you’re always going to gain new perspectives and how to create conversation with someone if they not in the same position as you are. That was for me such a great feeling. So, it was just so great and you know I can’t regret anything about it, it was such a fantastic year.

WBSS ball 2017

So, what have you been up to since you’ve graduated?

I graduated back in July 2017. During summer, I travelled and it was a great experience. I did about 7 weeks in Southeast Asia. That was a really fun time and obviously, like anyone would say, I’d recommend travelling. But what I actually found very valuable was after that in September, I came back and since I’ve lived in Zurich for a few years, I studied German in high school so I understood it quite well but I’ve never been fluent.

So, I decided to go to Berlin for 3 months and I did a German course during that time so now I’m professionally qualified to speak German which is great. You know, obviously from a professional perspective, it’s always good to have another skill given the current economic climate, it’s a great and very practical language to have. But that experience to me was honestly really life-changing, as tacky as that sounds, because it was the complete anticipation of what University was. I went to a new city by myself alone and it’s not at University where people are trying to make friends with one another. It was really 3 months of just me and then occasionally a couple of classmates during the day but it was nothing like that sort of sense of community. So, I really had to become a lot more comfortable in my own skin, to put it loudly. That taught me so much in itself and it made it feel a lot more calm and confident.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The one thing I would really recommend to anyoJne, either before they leave university or at least before they start work, is to try and take 2-3 months to do something completely alone because it really really alters your perception and makes you reconsider what you value before you start work. I know once I begin work, I’m not going to have time to be reflective and I think I see a big difference between the friends that have had time off and the friends that have gone straight into work and their levels of happiness.

“Try and take 2-3 months to do something completely alone because it really really alters your perception and makes you reconsider what you value before you start work.” 

How did you decide where you wanted to work after graduating?

I think if I can be perfectly honest, I don’t think I was reflective enough about it whilst it was happening. The one thing I would say about Warwick is that there’s this mad clamouring chaos to get something, anything, and everyone is so terrified of the thought that they’ll graduate without a job offer, they’ll just chase after anything that moves. Because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I knew that consulting would be a wise step to make, so I went after anything within that industry. Sure, my internship experience definitely narrowed it down and sort of reconfirmed that it was the industry I was interested in, but I really didn’t consider sort of the firm/company culture. It sounds horrible, but it didn’t matter to me at that time and I think I’ve just been really fortunate that I am excited and that I got something which I am really looking forward to, but I definitely wasn’t that self-aware when I was going after the job. I think you really do need to think about it before you start applying because once you do start applying, it’s so busy, there’s so much going on, you have so many interviews and online tests. You don’t have time to be reflecting on whether or not you actually want to be doing the job, you’re just trying to get anything.

So, I would definitely recommend to all first years at least, with that summer off, to really take some time to think about what you want to do. It’s not that you need to have a set answer, but you at least need to have a job that you know you will at least be able to learn and gain from afterwards. Most of the jobs are only 2 year contracts so it’s not the end-all if you don’t know when you start or at least that’s what I tell myself.

What advice do you have for current students at Warwick? 

I think take University as a time to explore your interests. Try not to get too caught up in the expectations of what you think University should be. I think that people really do get dragged into the whole “I need to be going to all these different nights out” or “I need to be getting a job as quickly as possible” or “I need to be getting a first”. Yes, of course you need to have your priorities and know what your goals are because in the end, it’s university, but feel free to explore different avenues along the way. It’s something I wish I would have done more of because you really don’t have a time in your life like the Undergraduate degree where you can change your time so much.

“In the end, it’s university, feel free to explore different avenues along the way.”

So, if you are interested in different subjects, try and take those different modules, do language courses, join different societies, join sports clubs. Yes, it is difficult to manage your time and University is overwhelming so you’re not alone when you feel that way. It’s not you mismanaging, it really is an overwhelming time. But really do choose things that you enjoy spending your time on because there’s going to be so much of your life where you don’t get to enjoy every single day just because of the way it is. Really just try not get too dragged in into what you think University should be. If that’s not what you’re into, don’t force it because I felt that way. Yeah, I went out a lot and I had a lot of great nights and I had those fun memories, but it’s not who I am as a person that’s not the thing that gives me pleasure and self-confidence or whatever so don’t force it if that’s not what you’re into and really just do try and explore as many avenues as possible.

Also, everyone always feels like they’re alone with their problems and nobody understands their situation. All I’d say is really do rely on people, really do invest in making those friendships and those connections during this time because again, you’ll never have that abundance of time available to do so and that doesn’t mean that you have to waste it on having coffees with every random stranger but do foster the ones that do add value and a new perspective to your life. Really do push yourself to try and get to know people who have a different perspective because it’s another way of exploring different avenues of opportunities and experience.

“I wish I would have indulged my curiosity a little bit more”.

Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently? 

This is too harsh to say, but I feel like I’ve neglected my curiosity a little bit. I don’t regret it because it taught me so much and it’s always the same thing, you know I wouldn’t be who I am today without having gone down that path. But I really did get dragged into doing well in societies, focusing on academics, getting a job. Those were really my priorities and I don’t think I explored my curiosity enough because I’m actually very interested in Arts and Philosophy and different languages. You know, just completely random things that have nothing to do with my work life and I wish that I would have just taken the time to go to all those millions of talks which societies have organised. I never really indulged in those things and I think that’s really sad.

With my free time, it would just be focused on going out, or having dinner with friends, and those aren’t bad things. but I wish I would have indulged my curiosity a little bit more. For example, a lot of second year students I know are taking a year out from what I’ve heard and I think that is one way to do that. I don’t think you have to take a year out to go and try those things out, but to just be a little bit more conscious whilst you are at your time in University to learn to integrate that into your lifestyle.

To finish on the most important question: Smack or Neon? 

Smack. Hands down. If anyone told me Neon, I would just be heart-broken. Tuesday Smack is the best as well. I think there’s just something animalistic about Smack you know when you go in and it’s so intense. I feel like you can get away with anything at Smack. With Neon, the thing I never liked was that there are so many rooms, I would lose everyone, and I’m always talking and socialising with people. I have so many good memories at Smack.