1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I joined EY in September 2013 as part of the School Leaver programme as an Assurance Associate in the Technology, Media & Telecommunications sector. My daily work involves creating detailed work progress trackers, liaising with clients to ensure a smooth audit process and creating detailed documentation and testing workbooks which show the work we are performing. I have also taken on the responsibilities of acting as a member of our department social committee, as well as being a member of the School Leaver Ambassador programme whereby we assist the recruitment team in reaching out to other school students to let them know about the opportunities that are on offer after finishing their exams. Internally, I will liaise with my project team on the particular client I am working on and ensure that the process is moving along smoothly, helping to complete areas of the audit with the final aim of approving the financial statements of the client. Externally, I remain in contact both via e-mail and telephone with my clients, ensuring that they are aware of the status and progress of the audit and are able to help answer any questions we may have for one another.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
My face to face interaction skills have come on leaps and bounds since I first joined EY. I am now confident in holding conversations with clients that I have not met before, as well as in building positive and lasting relationships with these clients to help the company grow. I have completed my CFAB qualification (part of the ICAEW ACA qualification) and am now studying towards my professional level exams. Time management is of the essence in my job role and so prioritising my task list is paramount. This is the skill that I feel I have developed the most since leaving school. My IT software and computing skills (particularly on Microsoft Excel) have also improved due to the exposure I have had with this software as part of my job role.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I thoroughly enjoy being part of the EY family. My teams are supportive, helpful and encouraging and this goes towards making me look forward to coming to work each day. I enjoy the challenges I am faced with and the problem-solving approach that we take in ensuring that we are being as efficient as possible. The exposure to IT and face to face communication are two factors that keep me engaged during my work. I enjoy being able to build relationships with our clients and interacting with them to find out more about how their businesses work and what we can do to make the audit more efficient for both the client and EY. The opportunities to get involved with not only work-related but extra-curricular activities at EY is never-ending and this is something that also helps to keep me engaged in my work. Overall I am very happy with my experiences at EY so far.
4. How valued do you feel by EY?
Appreciation within my teams is fantastic. The managers and seniors are keen to give positive feedback wherever possible, as well as giving constructive feedback and areas of improvement where necessary. The introduction of recognition rewards for exceptional effort at EY are a great way of keeping the staff engaged and motivated. Client feedback is also a way in which I have felt externally recognised for the work I have performed. Getting positive feedback from our clients is a very rewarding feeling and makes me feel appreciated for the hard work that not only myself, but our whole team puts towards our audits. One example of this was earlier this year when I travelled to Israel to help audit a client. The client were so pleased with our efforts that they took us out to lunch on our final day in Israel as a thank you and this appreciation goes a long way toward building a strong, long-lasting and positive relationship between both EY and its clients.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Our induction programme was fantastically organised. We were invited to stay away in Reading for a 3-day induction where we got to meet our peers, learn what sort of work we would be performing for EY and also get to meet some of the staff we would be working with when we joined. The training EY offer us is also of a very high standard and this aids with our understanding of the software they use and the systems we need to be familiar with in our job roles. We are offered study leave for our exams and time in college for studying the content we need to learn and this is valued greatly by all of the school leavers. The counsellor system in place means we always have a point of contact should we have any concerns at work and also someone that proactively helps us to manage our careers and personal development. I feel that our programme has been very well organised.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Our training provider is always accessible via e-mail and will respond to queries, generally, within 24 hours. Our time in college, though intensive, is thorough and staff are always keen to help with any queries or problems we may have during our studies. So far (as I have not yet completed all of my exams) I have enjoyed the training received at college.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Our Counsellors are our main point of contact in terms of support at EY and my counsellor has been fantastic since I joined the firm. Even when I became ill soon after joining the company, they helped to facilitate my needs around work and suggested flexible working as a way to manage my illness whilst building my career. This support network has been incredible and I am thankful to those involved for helping me to achieve my goals, particularly while I was unwell.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
This is the only area that I feel could be improved on the programme. We work hard as a peer group to ensure that we deliver the best service we possibly can and, given that many school leavers have moved into London to work at EY, it's the only area where I feel that a slightly higher salary would make a huge difference. At times (particularly during busy season) we work very long hours and, though we are not fully qualified as yet, this is not always reflective in our pay and so I think this is something that could potentially be reviewed. Having said that, the salary we are currently provided does cover travel costs and daily living costs such as food and telephone bills etc and so I would not say that it is an unfair salary, merely something that could be reviewed going forward.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
As previously mentioned, EY offers countless opportunities for staff members to get involved in activities outside of work. From the EY Sports teams to the School Leaver Ambassador programme and local community and charity initiatives. EY offers opportunities to all of its staff to get involved with helping the community, their personal development and also in social activities. Outside of work, I have been a member of the department social committee, the school leaver ambassador programme and have also attended my old sixth form college to deliver an EY recruitment presentation.
9a. Would you recommend EY to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
The opportunities I have been given since I have joined EY have been endless. From interacting with clients face to face, to organising team social activities, all the way to travelling out to Israel to help with the audit process, EY have continually offered me ways to build on my career and professional development. The skills I have learned in the 2 years I have been with the company so far will go a long way in helping not only my business skills, but life skills as well and so I feel the experience has helped me develop and grow as a person. I would highly recommend that anyone leaving school considers joining the EY School Leaver Programme.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to EY? *
I would advise anyone applying to company to get in touch with the schools team. They are happy to help prepare students for the application process and will offer any advice they can to help them understand what is required. Moreover, speak with the School Leavers themselves! Most of us have a Twitter account or a LinkedIn profile so find us and feel free to message us with questions you have on applying to the programme. The best people to ask are those that have been through it themselves after all. In preparation for the assessment days, my advice would be, be yourself. EY are not looking for accounting robots, they want helpful, honest and reliable people that are genuinely looking to help build a better working world.
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