Skip navigation to content

Case Study: Rhona Millar

Personal details
Degree:Mathematics BSc Profile picture
School(s): School of Mathematics and Statistics
Year of Graduation:Jun-2011
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Ernst & Young
Job title: Associate
Occupational Sector: Financial services
What has been your route to getting your current position?

In the summer between my third and fourth year I worked in Switzerland on an internship with the Saltire Foundation. My internship was with Syngenta and I worked in Finance. I really enjoyed the experience and when I was there I used the opportunity to talk to as many people as possible about what their career paths had been. A few of the managers in the Finance department had qualified as Chartered Accountants with ‘Big 4’ Accountancy firms in the UK. Their advice was that this a great starting point, with lots of opportunities, so I decided to apply.

What does your job involve ?
I have spent my first year with Ernst & Young either studying for exams with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), covering subjects such as Finance, Business Law, Financial Accounting and Taxation, or working in financial services assurance. My clients are in the asset management industry and I work as part of audit teams providing assurance services. As part of our work we gain extensive knowledge of our clients' systems, processes and reports and perform testing over these.
What are the best bits of your job ?
The best part is that no two days are the same. I work with a variety of clients in the asset management industry. I spend a lot of my time out of the office – at client sites in Edinburgh or elsewhere. I also like that I have had opportunities to be involved in ‘extra-curricular’ activities outside of work. I am currently part of a programme that offers maths mentoring to four local high schools in Edinburgh for students about to sit their Highers. I have also had days out of work to do charity work in the community.
Why were you successful?
I think the main reason I was successful was that I had done work experience before applying for a graduate scheme. It meant I could answer interview questions with a range of examples from my previous roles. It also shows that you are committed to the career path you have chosen.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
You don’t need an accountancy or numerical degree to apply to EY, so although I have used the skills I developed at University, they are not directly applicable on a day-to-day basis. I have found that my experience of problem solving and logical thinking has been most useful.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
My main bit of advice would be – prepare! I find that for interviews nothing beats preparation. It helps you feel more relaxed and shows that you are interested in the company/job/industry. I would do lots of online research, use the resources available at the Careers Centre and if possible talk to people who already do the job. Ernst & Young have a high profile on campus in St Andrews, so before I even applied I had spoken to the people I now work with. They were able to give me invaluable tips about the application process.