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EY Graduate Scheme Review

  • Work/Life Balance

  • Practical Skills Learnt

  • Live Up To Expectations

What is a typical day like for you?

As a first year assurance associate, the majority of my work for the first year takes place either in college, or out at a client’s site. Depending upon which sector you cover (which you can request in advance if you have a particular desire for a sector), this can range from a hedge fund in Mayfair, to a factory out in Amsterdam. One of my colleagues’ first job was a mining client out in Moscow!

Can you earn bonuses in years 1,2,3?

No, we exist to provide our opinion on financial statements in order to give ‘assurance’ to the users of our client’s financial statements. Our independence could be seen to be jeopardised if performance related pay structures were introduced.

What are the things that interest you about your job?

The exposure to such a broad array of clients is second to none. As a ‘big 4’, we work with some of the world’s largest companies (e.g. BP, Orange, Apple, UBS, Virgin.....). Also- the ‘ACA’ qualification stands you in a phenomenally good position for the rest of your career- whether you decide to stay in financial services, join industry, or move into banking. Approx. 85% of FTSE 100 boards have at least 1 ACA qualified member.

What sort of hours are you working at the moment?

Hours vary depending upon your client. Generally speaking, if you’re in the office past 8pm then thats regarded as a ‘late night’.

Are there times of the year that are busy/quiet?

Definitely. ‘Busy season’ runs from January through to the end of March. That said, in your first couple of years you’ll be doing studying & exams in the quiet spells- effectively making the whole year ‘busy’!

What skills do you need to do your job?

To do the job, you need to be numerical, analytical and hard working. To get through the interview, you need to show that you’re a team player, and display leadership qualities.

How many people in your team?

It varies. Job depending, it can range from 3 people to about 20.

Are you involved in a work social activity?

One of Ernst & Young’s main things is a ‘work life balance’- we’ve got every imaginable religious group/sports team/social event you can think of. If you wanted to, you could spend each night of the week at a different event.

Do you go out much with work colleagues?

Yes, “were going for some drinks after work do you want to come?” becomes a frequent sound.

What is it like commuting everyday?

Our (global) head offices are by London Bridge.

What is the culture of the organisation?

Work-hard-play-hard is a key part of the Ernst & Young culture.

How much formal training did you receive?

23 weeks out of the first 18 months are spent at college studying for the ACA qualification, in addition to various week-long residential training courses and in-house training programs.

Where are most of the other graduates from?

A huge variety, graduates come from a wide mixture of Oxbridge, Redbrick universities, and various top international universities.

What was the interview process like?

Step 1: Online application form

Step 2: Online numerical tests

Step 3: First round 1-on-1 interview with a member of HR

Step 4: Assessment Centre

Step 4: Partner Interview

I submitted my application in September and was accepted at the end of January.

Is it easy to move into other departments?

Not initially- for the first 18 months the main focus is exams (and you more or less get assigned clients), however once qualified (or at least part qualified) then you can transfer departments with relative ease. 

Have you taken any professional exams?

Yes, the ACA.

Can you name a client/deal you have worked on and outline your role and the teams role?

Client work depends upon your departments- if you’re in MOGU (Mining, Oil, Gas, Utilities) then you’ll mostly be dealing with large clients, usually involving travel. However if you’re in real estate for example, then you’ll most probably be based in central London. 

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

After 3 years you’ll ‘qualify’, upon which you’re an ‘executive’ and will be leading the client engagements (reporting to the assistant manager). After 5 years you’ll probably be an assistant manager, looking to move into a senior manager position. To make partner takes approx. 12 years.

What are the office perks/ facilities like?

Our office has a Gaucho & Strada as part of it, and an itsu and Pret outside. All expenses paid for travelling from to anywhere but the office. We have decent changing rooms if you cycle/run to work, and we’ve got a gym underneath the office (which we get a pretty decent discount for!).

What skill do you wish you had or could take a course in that would make you better at your job?

A strong understanding of the economic environment is always helpful, especially when discussing developments with clients. 

Do you get to travel? What is that like? And where have you been recently?

Depending upon your sector/client, travel can often form a large part of your job. For example, a graduate that started with me spent his first 2 weeks in Moscow. Once qualified (3 years), you can apply to do a ‘secondment’ to more or less any Ernst & Young office (which we have in 132 countries) for anything up to 6 months. Another example: my current executive has just moved to London (permanently) having joined the firm on the graduate scheme in Madrid 4 years ago. The global nature of Ernst & Young really does mean that you have the ability to travel extensively.

How many days holiday do you get a year?

25 days.

Is it easy to book time off?

Yes, in ‘busy season’ it can be a bit harder, but generally speaking its fine.






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