My name is Alisha and I am currently on placement in the Tax department in EY Cork. My placement is six months long and is part of the third year of my Accounting degree in University College Cork. I joined EY in the beginning of January and have loved every minute of my time working with the firm since!
Where my journey in tax began…
During my time in secondary school I did a lot of research in pursuing a business-related degree at third level. I chose to do Accounting as I really enjoyed studying the subject along with Economics for my Leaving Certificate. It is difficult to know what career to pursue when you’re only 17/18 years old. I remember one day during sixth year, my Accounting teacher informed the class about the Irish Tax Institute’s Third Level Scholarship. When I looked into it I instinctively knew a career in tax was for me. I applied and was very lucky to be the chosen recipient of the scholarship in 2015.
During the summer after my second year in college I had to decide where I would apply for my placement. I knew I wanted to join tax in a ‘Big 4’ firm but which one exactly? I chose EY for a number of reasons; the support that the firm provide to their trainees, their Vision 2020 which aims to ‘build a better working world’ and the fact that EY would assist me in gaining insightful and beneficial experience to help me kick start my career. I was quite nervous before starting placement as I had no prior experience working in a professional services firm but from day one support has been provided in abundance which helped me to feel at ease.
Life as an Intern
My first couple of weeks at EY involved different forms of training which provided a good foundation before starting work in the office. Each new-joiner was assigned a buddy during this time. A ‘Buddy’ is the person we go to for any questions that we have. They are always there to lend a helping hand. I have been assigned as Buddy for this summer’s tax interns. This just goes to show that, even though I have only been with the firm since January, I am already capable of taking on the position of responsibility in showing others how to get into the swing of things at EY!
As one of only two interns working in Tax in the Cork office at the moment, I am at the bottom of the hierarchical structure that exists at EY, similar to the majority of other professional services firms. This hierarchical structure is not evident in the office due to the open floor plan. Nobody has their own office, so this makes my seniors much more approachable which definitely helps to improve the working environment. Everyone in the office is very friendly and they are all willing to help me, along with my fellow intern, with any queries that we have. They understand that as interns we do not have any in-depth knowledge or expertise in tax, but they are all willing to teach and guide us as we expand on our knowledge.
EY Cork’s Tax department consists of approximately 40 people who all work under the UK & Ireland Tax services line. As the Cork department is significantly smaller than Dublin’s, it is not divided into specific tax departments yet consists of people who specialise in different areas. This has allowed me to get a taste of different areas of tax from Corporate to Income Tax and VAT. I contribute to the workplace by mainly giving those higher up a helping hand with more basic tasks although I am also assigned more specific tax related jobs albeit less frequently. I am often asked to compose engagement agreements for a wide range of clients, process invoices, call Revenue with a client enquiry or even simply print and file documents away. As a new-joiner it is important to be able to carry out even the simplest of tasks as efficiently and effectively as possible. Placement is a learning experience, so I always try to take the most from each task that I am given.
It is not all work and no play though! EY emphasizes the importance of having a good work-life balance. There are many nights out organised for interns and for employees within each department. Recently, my colleagues and I took part in Pitch and Putt after work one day which was great fun! On Fridays before bank holidays there is a “Tea-G-I Friday” break organised in which an array of cakes and biscuits is provided and a slide show is presented that gives a roundup of any news and updates within the office. There are many sporting activities to take part in also, from Tag Rugby to Golf and even if sport isn’t your thing you can join the EY choir!
My future career plans & ambitions
My time on placement in EY has given me invaluable experience and foresight into my chosen career path. It was hard to imagine when sitting in college lectures what working life would be like after my degree, but work placement has given me the practical experience that is not available in a classroom. This experience has increased my motivation and drive heading into my final year, as I now have a better understanding of the career that I am pursuing. I hope to come back to EY Cork when I graduate and complete the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) and Chartered Accountant and exams. For college requirements, my time on placement should end in early June but I have asked to stay on until the end of July so if that doesn’t prove how much I have enjoyed my time so far at EY, I don’t know what will!