‘Big 4’ is the exciting world of debits, credits, boutique coffee shops and a culture like no other. Any accounting or business student would have probably heard of the ‘Big 4’ and may even dream of scoring an internship or graduate position there some day. Well I’m here to offer a little bit of insight from the perspective of a third year business student who has been through the EY Cadet Program and has returned to tell you about my experiences. At the time I didn’t really understand what joining the EY Cadet Program meant, but looking back at my experience now I am truly grateful for the opportunities I was given in my first two years of university.
1) You will meet and get to work with many smart and hardworking people
Employees at a Big 4 are hired for a reason, namely for their hardworking nature, desire to succeed and career driven personality. One of the best parts about being a cadet was learning from some of the best in the industry and being in a supportive team environment where you never felt like you were tackling anything on your own. It really is motivating to be working with people who are like-minded and want to help you succeed.
2) Getting client exposure from Day 1
After you finish your introductory training, it’s time to head out and start working on client engagements. When I first started at EY I was under the impression only more senior staff were directly involved with the client but boy was I wrong! On my first client engagement, I remember going to meet with the client with the rest of my team and then I was told by my senior I was going to sit with the client to complete a section of my work. While at the time, I felt completely out of my comfort zone, I also knew I had a supportive team around me. For anything I was unsure about when speaking to the client, I would write this down, relay it to my team and get back to the client. I definitely learnt the usefulness of having a pen and notebook handy!
3) You work hard but also play hard
Yes there will be times when you will be required to put in the hard yards, especially during busy season but EY definitely takes the time to look after their employees and provide a range of social events for everyone to get involved with and look forward to. I was a member of my division’s social committee and was able to play a role in organising various social events for the year which was great fun! I also have many fond memories of social outings with my cadet group, my engagement teams and the amazing Christmas parties the firm throws every year.
4) Networking, Networking, Networking
I cannot emphasise the importance of networking enough, not only during university but also once you get into the workforce. If you have a particular engagement you really want to work on or a particular team you want to work with, then it’s all about speaking to the right people who can make this happen. It’s important to be proactive about your career at the firm, as you will only get out what you put in. So definitely take the time to make those valuable connections!
5) They don’t only hire accounting students
While they are called the ‘Big 4 accounting firms’ it doesn’t mean you have to have studied accounting or want to be an accountant! There is such a big push these days for diversity in the firm and HR actually want people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. This is what creates such a great people culture at the firm! EY and the other Big 4 also have a large variety of divisions, not just audit so there truly is something for everyone. Do your research and you may be surprised!
6) Excelling at Excel (or the lack thereof)
While excel is something you will be using on the daily, there is definitely no requirement to be a master at excel before you start. I can tell you from experience, I had a very limited understanding of excel to the point where I was using my calculator to do simple maths before I realised there was a ‘sum’ function on excel. Trust me, you will learn it all on the job!
All in all, I can say my experience at EY is the highlight of my university experience thus far and I encourage all of you who are interested to apply for a cadetship, vacationer or graduate role!
Be proactive about your applications, practise those online behavioural tests and give yourself the best chance at scoring an interview. The skills you will learn are invaluable and will no doubt benefit you for the rest of your career.
Written by Natasha Cadalt