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Case Study: Alex Meltham

Personal details
Degree:MA (Hons) English Profile picture
School(s): School of English
Year of Graduation:Jun-2012
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Ernst & Young LLP
Job title: Associate
Occupational Sector: Accountancy
What has been your route to getting your current position?
In the summer before my final year, I applied for Ernst & Young's Leadership Academy programme and was successful in gaining a place; an interview for a full time graduate position followed, and I was lucky enough to receive an offer.
What does your job involve ?
I work in audit, a branch of accountancy which involves visiting different clients and testing the numbers behind their financial statements to ensure that they give a true and fair view to the public.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I enjoy visiting the different client sites and working with new teams every few weeks - you don't have time to get bored! I've been exposed to a huge range of business sectors, from manufacturing to fashion retail to chemical engineering, which is incredibly valuable.
Why were you successful?
Taking part in the Leadership Academy got my foot through the door, but the partner who interviewed me spent a lot of time talking about whiskey, as I mentioned that I was a member of QuaichSoc! I think the key factor, though, was researching the organisation beforehand and being aware of the impact of current events on its business. If you can hold a discussion with your interviewer about what makes their firm different and the direction it's going in, you're more likely to convince them that you want and deserve a place there.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
English may not be the conventional path into accountancy, but there's far more written work involved in the job than people realise. Constructing sound written and verbal arguments and defending your point of view are crucial aspects of life as an accountant, and these are both skills that I learned as an English undergraduate.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
The hours are unpredictable and can be very long, but the social life at big firms like EY is amazing; you're in a large intake of people your own age, and you all go through the training programme together. You'll work hard and play hard, but there's no better business grounding out there.