“A huge thanks to EY for investing in our futures and building a better working world.” These were my closing remarks from speaking to a crowd of over 600 people at the British Museum for the EY Foundation [a new UK charity set up to support for young people and entrepreneurs]launch.
I got to be addressing such a big crowd on a hot summer’s evening in London started in August 2013 after I was offered a place on the Smart Futures programme – a 10 month programme for bright Year 12 students, which includes three weeks paid work experience at EY, the professional services firm.
The programme recognises the importance of investing in the futures of the next generation: giving bright and ambitious young people a chance to shine regardless of upbringing or socio-economic factors.
EY opened their doors to me and 47 other Year 12 students for three weeks over our summer holiday.
For the first two weeks, we were given the opportunity to learn about different sectors of business, interact with entrepreneurs and senior business people, meet clients and gain hands on business experience. After being put through our paces with some intensive training and some newly acquired knowledge, each student became a fully-fledged employee. We were all assigned a department from advisory, assurance, corporate finance, or tax. I was placed with an executive management team in advisory services. The working week was very intense but rewarding. In a short space of time I had joined a live team and was put straight to work. I was able to create a presentation based on some research I collected about the client’s marketing. The managing partner was very impressed and used it as part of the recommendation package.
While working as an employee for EY, I was given a very unique insight into what it takes to be a part of a global company. Moreover my personal awareness of the business world and the opportunities therein has been strengthened. The Smart Futures programme reinforced in me the need to work hard in order to compete with the best.
Post Smart Futures a lot has been happening. Part of the Smart Futures experience is to get a mentor who will help you along your journey in Year 13. I was lucky enough to have a partner and he is absolutely amazing! I believe that having the long term mentorship has made a dramatic difference to my thinking process when making important decisions. Having the guidance and wisdom of a senior figure gives a deeper sense of clarity and usually presents a new perspective to look at. For now I am keeping my options open and seeing where life takes me. However I am enjoying being an EY Schools ambassador, which has allowed me to grow my personal network and advise young people who, like me, are considering their futures, about what types of career options are available to them.
The EY Foundation launch was a huge confidence booster. Being able to address a large audience filled with amazing people was humbling. Most importantly, my view from the podium highlighted the possibilities and opportunities that my future can have. My biggest hope for the EY Foundation is that it will become a global leader on giving people, from all walks of life, a chance to shine. The EY Foundation has the potential to be very crucial in the development of future talent and leaders.