1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a trainee associate within the audit and assurance department. I travel to different clients in and around East Anglia.Depending on the stage of the audit, I perform different types of tasks, from walking through a company's process to auditing sections of the financial statement. I am responsible for managing my workload, performing my work to a high standard ready for review from my seniors.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
The first thing I learnt is that you learn more on the job than in any classroom. Of course, you still need to work towards your qualification, which I am currently doing. With a mix of attending college and home learning, I am first studying towards the ACA Certificate level (CFAB) qualification before I move on to the advanced exams. Along with this, I've attended several different training courses set up by EY, such as "Introduction to Audit" and "Developing Audit Knowledge". I have also found that I have become much stronger with excel and analysing data.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I think this is a difficult question as it can almost change every week, depending on your client and team. When I can understand the work I am doing, and why I am doing it, I find it to be enjoyable. Most teams I have worked with have been good fun. However, there have been times where I have found myself working long hours that I have felt unnecessary. Typically during the busy period for audit, I sometimes found myself staying unnecessarily long. Although my contract does say "you must work the hours required to complete your work", there were times where I was well on track with my work but didn't feel comfortable leaving on time or even later, as it's almost become the normal thing to do with some teams. I think its also worth noting (as no one mentioned it to us in the recruitment process) that you may find yourself a couple of times a year on a stock take on a Saturday, which you are not paid for nor do you receive any time in lieu. Furthermore, although I was fully aware the majority of my time would be out at clients site, I was not aware at all that some offices cover a broader area than just their city, which is the case with the Cambridge office. Although staying in hotels for away jobs can be nice, it can quickly become a nuisance when you're staying away a lot.
4. How valued do you feel by EY?
I definitely feel that the majority of my seniors are appreciative of the work I do, whether its a "thank you for your help" at the end of the day or a £50 Recognition Award Voucher, which I recently received after a busy period for one of my clients. We are also looked upon as the same level as new graduates, level 1, despite only being school leavers. This means we do the same level and volume of work as them and are expected to have the same level of understanding. For this exact reason, it's hard to see why grads are paid so much more.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The induction week was great, it allowed us to get to know all the other school leavers starting at the same time all over the country, several of whom I still stay in touch with now. As I am only 8 months in, I have only been to college to study for 2 exams so far. I am due to sit the next 2 in august after a residential college course in Wales, which is hard to understand as there are several equal courses in and around Cambridge. Also, it has not been clearly communicated what the plan is for years 3-5 of our course. I have friends at other big 4 firms, some of whom are obtaining the exact same qualification but are being allowed to complete it within 4 years. I believe this would've been ideal. As well as this, I believe additional time off to study between going to college and the exam itself would be ideal. I found myself booking the majority of my annual leave for time to study, so have found it difficult to book a holiday. I even offered to take time off unpaid, but was told I didn't match the "criteria".
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
So far, for the two exams I have sat, our exam tutors were helpful, understanding and accessible.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The majority of training on this programme is given on the job, which I believe is the most effective method. I feel comfortable asking my seniors questions, and I feel all are open to answering and coaching you. The approach however does change depending on your senior, some like to guide you before you start and some expect you to try before you ask for help.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
As I'm living with my parents, I can put a little towards bills, some in my savings account and still have plenty to spend for clothes, food and going out. However, our salaries at this level probably wouldn't be enough to allow for independent living, especially in Cambridge.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are quite a few different opportunities outside of work. For example, you are given 2 paid days to volunteer at a charity, there are several different sporting activities, marathons etc. Unfortunately, I haven't actually been able to attend any I've been interested in, ironically due to work.
9a. Would you recommend EY to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
My answer is yes and no. Taking all things into consideration, I don't regret joining as a school leaver, although there have been days where I have. If you know you want a career in Accounting and would like the routine in your life, I don't see why you would choose to go through University. You can gain your chartered accountancy qualification a year quicker (3 years of uni + 3 years grad scheme vs 5 year school leaver scheme), and instead of being in tens of thousands of pounds of debt, you'll have earned a salary. Of course, if you really are desperate to go to uni, there is always the grad scheme to apply to further down the line.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to EY? *
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