Tips for Grads: Graduate Advice from EY with Melinda Woodlock
What is your biggest advantage when looking for a graduate job?
Is it your charming interview style? (Possibly)
No, the best way to get ahead in the job hunting game is to have people on the inside. People who know you and can give you advice, help you avoid pitfalls and put in a good word for you when the time comes. This network of associates, colleagues, and friends can be invaluable when looking for a job.
Grad programs offer an excellent chance for you to meet likeminded people. They can put you in contact with mentors, thought leaders, and people who want to be the best.
To help you get into these great opportunities, JobGetter has approached some of the best Graduate Employers in Australia. These Tips for Grads can help you write a perfect resume, avoid interview traps, and find out exactly what these recruiters are looking for. This week, Melinda Woodlock, Oceania Campus Recruitment Lead at EY, offers her knowledge and insider advice to graduate job seekers.
One of the best aspects of networking is having someone inside who can tell you how things work from behind the curtain. So why not get a head start now on your networking and get advice from someone who already knows the tips and tricks at EY?
That is the whole idea behind Tips for Grads. To give graduates like you a chance to see what some of the best graduate employers in Australia are doing and how you can impress them.
Read on to get Melinda’s advice…
EY, who until 2013 went by the name Ernst & Young, is one of the largest professional services providers in the world and a member of the Big 4 accounting firms. EY provides advisory, assurance, tax and transaction advisory services around the world.
With offices in over 150 countries, employees at EY have fantastic chances to work in a global community. There are also opportunities to build an international network of contacts, co-workers, and clients through interactions with the EY network of firms. EY’s mentoring, career development, and continuous coaching all exist to nurture your career in its early stages. These services allow you to develop your skills and abilities beyond the classroom. Importantly, they ensure you stay ahead of major industry changes.
EY uses their global reach for good, running extensive volunteer and social justice programs. In fact, their slogan is Building a Better Working World. It isn’t just words either. They have been recognised for their efforts to improve equality in the workplace for members of the LGBTIQ+ community. EY also participates in a matched giving program that sees the company match dollar for dollar employees’ donations to charities.
With such a large company, EY looks for graduates from many disciplines outside of traditional accounting and finance. It’s an excellent opportunity for graduates of any degree. If you are interested in joining a community that not only wants to be the best in the world but wants to make it a better place, EY could the place for you.
Melinda’s Tips for Grads
What was your first job?
My first professional job was as an audit cadet with Coopers & Lybrand, now known as PwC. I went straight from finishing high school into the business world balancing university and full-time work. It was a challenging experience but provided me with a great foundation for my future career. I also had numerous casual jobs throughout school and I believe these casual positions also build skills that are valuable as you transition into a professional role.
How long have you worked in HR?
I have been working in the HR field focussed on recruitment for over 15 years.
What do you look for in graduates?
Graduates at EY join from a range of degree backgrounds including technology, cyber security, engineering, law, accounting, economics, actuarial studies and human resources. The technical skills you gain in your degree are only one consideration for securing a graduate job. We look for students who are curious and motivated to learn and develop. Technology will continue to change the way we work and we need students who are excited about this change who can bring strong analytical skills and a genuine interest in the global business world. We need students who can collaborate in teams and build relationships.
What advice would you give to graduates looking to stand out?
My advice to students is to start building your networks and engaging with employers when you first commence your university studies. At EY we run a number of programs and events that are designed for students to get to know our people and what we do. You will build valuable knowledge and relationships through these experiences that will assist you to secure that first employment opportunity.
What’s something people might not know about working at EY?
We are embracing new technologies to support what we do and we have more than 1,100 robots working for us, both internally in our back offices but also in services for clients.
I’m also really proud of the fact that across Australia and New Zealand we dedicate over 12,000 volunteering hours to support our communities.
What thing makes a graduate’s application stand out to you?
Graduate applications that are well researched and tailored to the position really do stand out. Draw on your experiences and knowledge to outline why you are applying to a particular role ie. Have you met someone who sparked your interest? Are you motivated because of the changes and impact that is occurring?
What’s the number one mistake to avoid when applying for a graduate position?
The easiest mistakes to avoid in an application are spelling and grammatical errors. You need to thoroughly review your own application and have someone else do a final proof read.
What do you look for during the interview?
Interviews are nerve racking but hiring managers will try to make you feel as comfortable as possible. We want to get to know as much as we can about your motivations, interests and capabilities you could bring to EY and it’s also your opportunity to learn about us. First impressions do count so remember the basics around greeting your interviewers professionally and even remembering their names! You need to do your research so review your original application and think about the experiences and strengths you have had that you want us to know about. Most importantly though, always listen carefully to the question and ensure you’re answering the question asked with a relevant example and not just providing a rehearsed answer!
What questions should graduates never ask?
Avoid salary questions in the interview and getting too personal with your interviewers.
What do you wish more candidates would do or say?
I wish more students would take the opportunity to come along to the networking and learning opportunities we have available throughout the year so they can make an informed decision about the best career path for them.
What should graduates know about EY before applying?
By joining EY you will be part of a global network of firms providing the opportunity to build skills and knowledge across industries, across countries, and you will be supported to develop and learn.
What advice would you give to someone who was unsuccessful in applying?
The recruitment process is highly competitive and we know that many great students miss out on opportunities. There are a variety of pathways to build your career and you just have to remain positive and enthusiastic throughout the job search and take advantage of any opportunities presented to you to gain work experience or build relationships with companies of interest to you. Best of luck!
Final thought: Widen Your Horizons
It can sometimes feel like you’re alone on your career path. However, it’s important to remember all the people you’ve met and how they can all support you on your journey. One day you’ll be able to play an important role in someone else’s network.
Graduate programs give you a great opportunity to meet people who are all at different stages of their career. Where a company like EY excels is that they are huge, global, and multi-disciplinary giving you even more opportunities to network and meet people. Volunteering and mentoring can also help you to grow – both professionally and personally.
Networking also helps you to refine and develop your soft skills. With robots coming for so many jobs, the skills necessary to communicate effectively will become paramount. EY, like many companies, will always need people who can “collaborate in teams and build relationships.”
A graduate position at EY is an excellent way to help. You can help yourself to grow, help others to learn, and help improve the world. If anything can help you get a job you want or help your career grab it with both hands, like Melinda says, “take advantage of any opportunities!“
Want to join EY?
Have you always dreamed of making the world a better place? If you want to work with industry leaders and challenge yourself to learn, grow, and innovate take the take a leap and join EY’s graduate program. Take note of Melinda’s advice and keep it in mind when applying for their graduate opportunities.