This article was written in collaboration with EY. Explore internships, industrial placements and graduate programmes at EY by heading to the Opportunities tab of the Debut app.
When people think of the business sector they think it’s full of those with finance, economics or accountancy degrees. Often they think their degree is totally unsuitable, and they don’t stand a chance of making it in such a competitive industry.
Well we’re here to tell you the complete opposite is actually true. Companies like EY take on graduates from a huge range of degree backgrounds; what they’re looking for is skills and behaviours, not specific qualifications.
To bust some business stereotypes, we spoke to four EY employees about their experiences. Chloe Weaver, Audit Senior, Maria Rodolis, Audit Associate Government and Public Sector, Gemma Stockbridge, Audit Assistant Manager and Alison Coxon, Senior Consultant, sat down with us to discuss their degree background, studying at EY and the skills they use to thrive in their roles.
And we mean literally any degree
Our four EY employees all studied vastly different degrees, showing just what we mean when we say you can come from any degree discipline. Between them they studied maths, chemistry, history and modern languages, and yet they all ended up working in business with EY.
So no matter what you study, if you think you’re not qualified for a career in business or finance – think again. Your degree, regardless of its subject, will provide you with a unique skillset that will enable you to thrive, we promise.
You’ll be taught from scratch
“How am I supposed to work in business when I know literally nothing about it?”, we hear you cry. It’s a good question, but companies like EY have you covered. You won’t just be thrown in the deep end, you’ll study a professional qualification such as the ACA accounting qualification. You’ll be given time to study at college, alongside working, so you’ll be building up a solid bank of knowledge to draw upon in your work.
Gemma said: “I was nervous about starting the ACA and whether I would be behind those that had specialised in accounting, but within a couple of weeks any difference had disappeared, as the accountancy training at college was great and the firm was very supportive. I found that the majority of people in my year had not specialised in accountancy and that I was not behind as a result of this.”
You’ll be surprised at how many skills you already have
So you think you know nothing about business and finance? I can almost guarantee you will already have a whole host of skills which will help you to thrive in a business environment. Here are some of the skills our EY employees transferred across from their degree.
“Being able to motivate myself to study, completely self-sufficiently, was a key skill I learnt at university.” Chloe
Proficiency in Excel
“This was definitely useful to my role in EY”. Maria
“This is key to a successful role in audit and was something I had begun to develop during my history degree through the challenges of sources and fact patterns.” Gemma
“Studying modern languages was all about communication – both in person and in writing, and with people of different cultures and backgrounds. Communication is just as important to my role at EY, whether I am writing a report for the client or giving a presentation to my team.” Alison
The crucial thing to remember is that your degree will have taught you to work and think in ways you won’t even have realised, and you’ll be much more employable in the business sector than you might think.
It’s not all about being good with numbers
There’s a perception that business is all numbers, numbers, numbers. While being able to analyse data effectively is an important part of the job, there are also much more crucial aspects to the role.
According to Gemma, “I think people assume that to have a career in EY you have to be good with numbers and at maths. In reality a lot of the maths is done for you by Excel and it is much more important to be able to spot patterns, build relationships with clients and be able to communicate ideas effectively.” So before you freak about the fact you haven’t done maths since GCSE, remember it’s not the be all and end all.
Diverse backgrounds create better teams
So why exactly is it better to have graduates for a wide range of degree backgrounds? To the women we spoke to from EY, the benefits are clear. “Different experiences bring different views and different ways of thinking.” Chloe said, “If everyone has the same background, everyone will have the same way of responding to a challenge – variety helps to think outside the box!”
Maria went on to explain, “Quality can only be achieved when mathematicians, writers, innovators, technical specialists, linguists and more work together to solve a problem.”
What’s more important to EY than the degree that you studied is the skills that you bring with it. Every degree discipline will have equipped you with a wide range of strengths, all of which you will be able to apply to a career in business. So if you’re thinking about applying for a role at EY, don’t stress too much about your academic background – focus on what you can bring to the table and you’re sure to go far.