Q:Where, when and what did you study?
A: From September 2011 I attended St Mary’s College in Blackburn, Lancashire, studying Maths, English Language and Literature, Biology and Art. As a result of my developing interest in Maths, in my second year, I decided to drop Art in favour of A-Level Accounting, completing the two-year course within one year alongside my other studies.
Q: When did you start thinking about which industry and employer to apply to, and what did you do to set the ball rolling?
A: Throughout school I had never really put much thought into what I wanted to do for a career (although I had a pretty good idea about what I didn’t want to do!), selecting A-Levels that kept my options open. Once I started college, choosing a career path became a much higher priority! After talking to various friends and family about what I should do, I was offered the opportunity to help out part-time in the finance office at college, doing basic book keeping. From there I took a work placement at a local accounting firm with a view to securing an apprenticeship with them once I had finished college. After completing my first placement, my manager at the firm encouraged me to apply for a placement at one of the Big 4 accountancy firms, to broaden my opportunities.
Q:What drew you to EY in particular?
A: I applied to all of the Big 4 and for several industry placements but EY were the company that appealed most. Right from the initial interviews, the people seemed so much more approachable and down to earth which made me instantly feel like it was somewhere I wanted to work. Also, the principles that EY demonstrate through support for the Women’s Network and the Disabilities Working Group, were values close to my heart so this made my choice quite easy.
Q: What skills and experiences helped you through EY’s application and selection process?
A: The selection process for EY is not to be taken lightly – it is tough, but it’s supposed to be! The best advice I was given was to make sure I presented myself as confident (but not too confident) and the best way to become confident was to prepare.
Prior to my interview, I researched what questions were likely to come up and ensured the answers I prepared were original and unique to me. Also I asked my parents to hold mock interviews with me, so I could practice my answers verbally rather than just having them in my head. The best feedback that I got back after my interview was the fact that my interviewer said I came across as though I had enjoyed the process!
Whilst I was at college, I worked part-time as a Supervisor in a local restaurant and bar. This work required me to learn to manage a team and be able to speak to all types of people in sometimes challenging situations, (reluctant payers, misbehavers, disorientated, angry or complaining customers) with the same confidence and good humour that I would apply to more straightforward customers. This experience helped to build my confidence and determination to be successful at work.
Q: What skills from your subjects studied at school/college have you been able to transfer to your role at EY?
A: Although I chose this career based on the fact that it would let me use the skills and knowledge I gained through my Maths studies, I think that the skills I gained through my English studies have been a lot more useful. The capability to understand how to write for different audiences (i.e. the difference between writing an email to an internal colleague and writing a report for an external client) has been invaluable and gave me a strong foundation from which to grow.
Q: How has EY supported your transition from school/college into a career in business?
A: The transition from school to work could have seemed daunting, but it felt easy at EY. Once I joined, there was an induction with all of other new starters from all across the UK and from different service lines, enabling me to build a strong peer network right from the start. This network has been vital to supporting my progression to date, as I know that there are people I can talk to who are just a phone call away if ever I need it. My more senior colleagues are also very approachable. My line manager’s support, encouragement and confidence in me has really helped to stretch myself and spurred me on to aim to achieve much more
Q: What’s your most important piece of advice for school leavers considering the same path as you?
A: The most important piece of advice I wish I had received when I was making career choices is not to let other people’s opinion affect what you do. It is great to listen to other ideas and seek their views, as that may help you decide what you want to do, but in the end it’s only you who can make those decisions.
Q: What does it mean to you to be shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year?
A: It was such a surprise! I am so happy to have been considered and shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year. The recognition by my team (and EY as a whole) has made me feel like my commitment and contribution to EY projects has been really appreciated and has really inspired me to continue this work in the future.