Since 2007, the financial experts at Ernst & Young have offered a rare behind-the-scenes peek at their operations to minority students from all over the country. This year, the Discover Ernst & Young program (formerly Discover Tax) kicked off Jan. 4-6 in New York City, with opportunities to participate in workshops, learn from presentations and mingle with high-level E & Y executives, including global CEO Jim Turley.
Initially started as a way to introduce young people to tax accounting, Discover Ernst & Young has since expanded to explore various financial industry areas, including financial statement audits and risk management. Approximately 600 students have participated in the program since its founding.
Ken Bouyer, Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting, says the program serves an important purpose. “We are in the business of creating pipelines in the profession. We invest in learning and development. A lot of people have misconceptions about this industry. They think it’s boring, but once they meet people like myself and other E & Y employees, they see that we are cool people who are also smart. You might be in New York today and China next week. You become more culturally aware.”
Karyn Twaronite, Americas inclusiveness officer, strongly advocates for diversity in all industries. “A diverse team creates a better work product,” she says. “Studies have shown that diverse teams are higher performing than more homogenous teams. Additionally, we are a global company with over 150,000 employees in 140 countries. We have to be able to work effectively across all cultures.”
Here are a few facts: According to company numbers, minorities represent 32% of the staff and partner-level positions in their U.S. and Canada offices, a figure that has doubled in the past decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics places the median salary for a tax accountant at $62,000 and $115,000 for financial managers.
Bouyer and Twaronite urge students who are interested in pursing a career in accounting and other financial industries to maintain a high grade-point average; take a broad range of classes; set up informational meetings with professionals; and participate in networking opportunities.
One former student did all the above. Deandrea C. Greer-Thomas participated in the Discover Tax program in 2009 and is currently an E & Y tax accountant. The Hampton graduate began working as a full-time staffer in July 2011. The energetic Texas native loves her job and encourages other young people to be prepared for all the opportunities that come their way. “When you come into a program like Discover Ernst & Young, everyone has a high grade-point average,” she says. “Having good grades will get you in the door, but it’s your preparation and willingness to learn and to work hard that will really get you where you need to go. Read up on business etiquette. Be aware of what’s going on in the world and be able to hold a conversation with anyone. Keep in touch with people you meet and have a great attitude.”
5 Tips for Financial Industry Success:
Walk the halls at the current company. Literally walk the halls of your company and get to know your colleagues. Take advantage of all in-office networking opportunities.
Volunteer to help executives with projects. Make a name for yourself by becoming known as a reliable, hard worker.
Take on a leadership role. Don’t be afraid to lead and exhibit managerial qualities.
Volunteer at a non-profit. Volunteering at a non-profit not only showcases your time management abilities, but provides another way to expand your network.
Take the time to get certified. Whatever your chosen field, if there is an ability to become certified, do it. Doing so opens up more professional opportunities and helps to solidify you as an expert.
Visit http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Home for more information about the Discover Ernst & Young program.