Sarah first started work with Ernst & Young in the tax practice area as a vacationer, working during the summer holiday after her second year at university. Sarah switched over to the audit financial services area when she started on a full-time basis. She has been in the job for six months and earns roughly $37 000 to $40 000. Before starting her career, Sarah took 18 months’ break from university and travelled overseas. While away, she worked as a waiter and bartender.
At the start of a typical week I go over my emails and generally get organised before getting together with the rest of the team and heading over to a client’s offices. After introductions we are assigned tasks for the week. This will depend on the type of job and what we are testing or judging. We do this with the client’s help. Senior team members review the work I do and give advice, and then I go back over it. We should be finishing things off by the end of the week, which includes documenting everything we have done so anyone can pick it up and understand our work and processes.
You get really good exposure to a range of different industries, and with small and large companies. Besides working with numbers, which I have always enjoyed, I also get to deal with the finance services sector, which I am also interested in.
We audited National Australia Bank for the first time last year – it was a big job and I was a member of a big team. It was challenging and in my area of interest, it was also good to see the inside workings of a bank.
My standard hours are 8.30 am to 5.30 or 6 pm. While there are times we have to stay back a bit later, this gets balanced out. The company is very supportive of my need to study and understands that I have to go home and study.
People think the industry is dominated by old people but here it is a very young team and everyone gets along. It is not boring at all.
You have to like to be challenged and to take on responsibility. You are expected to do things that you have never done before. You have to be able to try different things and be willing to learn and absorb as much as possible.
Developing networks is definitely important. Doing a vacationer program also gives you a taste of the real world and lets you choose your direction with more confidence. It doesn’t have to be with a big firm – any experience helps.