Global trade Consultant with professional services firm EY
My degree: MA Philosophy and Economics, 2015
My current job
I am currently on the graduate scheme at EY (Ernst & Young) working in London as a Global Trade consultant. Our team provides advice to businesses looking to trade goods internationally. We sit in the tax department but the advice we provide can be on anything to do with trade including customs duties, excise, export controls and the operational side of trade in general. The last 6 months have seen as do a lot of work on the impact of Brexit on UK business.
My career history (to Jan 2017)
I did the International Baccalaureate at sixth form and studied philosophy, economics and French at higher level. I did the EY summer internship in the summer of my third year. It gave me a really good taste of the working world and I had an enjoyable six weeks. I got offered a job on the graduate scheme and started work in September after leaving Edinburgh. The graduate scheme I joined has me doing accountancy and tax qualifications and I am now about half way through.
Using my degree in my career
I think that the skills you develop in philosophy are about as transferable as they get when it comes to most jobs. I grudgingly admit that the specific philosophical knowledge hasn’t been overly useful in my day to day work (we do have several compulsory ethics modules in my qualifications, unfortunately I still haven’t been able to outline Kantian ethics in my tax exams).
However, when it comes to forming an opinion, developing an argument, coherently explaining an issue to your peers, presenting and critiquing the well-established norms, there really isn’t much better than four years of philosophical debate as practice. These are all things that are so essential in the working world and reading philosophy has helped immensely here. I think the most important general skill that I have taken away from university study as a whole has been the ability to listen to other people’s opinions and to come to well-considered solutions. It’s such a big part of my job and philosophical discussion is the best way to get used to this.
My useful experience
Apart from the skills developed throughout my degree, the whole university experience added so much value to my entering the working world. When it’s happening you don’t realise how much you change, and mature, during four years of university.
I ran two football teams at the University and that gave me a good understanding of the pains and joys of managing people. Similarly, I was vice president (running intra-mural sport) of the Sports Union in my third year which was great for developing management, team-work and organisational skills.
In the end, all experience is good experience. At university there are so many doors open to you to get involved in things and it’s a great way to start building up a CV, and for you to realise what you really enjoy and what you’re good at.
My career decisions
I always felt that the summer of my penultimate year was the one to start thinking seriously about gaining some experience in order to better decide what job and career I wanted to be in after university. The internet was my primary source of information but after that the University has such good resources for finding out about what the potential next steps could be. I made use of the careers fairs and explored the extensive range of companies / sectors that are represented there. I changed tack from aimlessly wandering around the fairs searching for free pens to actively identifying the companies that interested me beforehand and then going to find out as much as I could about the application processes and the company ethos.
Then in terms of what I was applying for at EY, Global Trade sounded like the most interesting mix with my economics background. Again, the internet provided me with a lot of information about what I could expect in a graduate role at one of the big 4.
Advice on getting into this career area
Global Trade is on the rise as a political issue. The number of roles will likely be increasing and there are going to be a variety of employers looking for people interested in trade, including various consultancy firms and within the public sector. I would say keep up to date with all the trade scenarios being discussed at the moment with Brexit, and then it’s all about applying and continuing to apply. It’s so important to have put the time in for preparation when applying.
Advice on making career decisions
Have a real think about what matters the most to you in your day to day life as you are going to spend the majority of your time at your job. A job opportunity might look amazing on paper but it might not be right for you. Do you want something that challenges you every day but consumes your nights and weekends? Or are you happier having a straightforward job with a routine that allows for you to make plans in your evenings? Do your research and ask yourself some honest questions about what you will be happy doing with your time after university.
And most importantly of all, enjoy your years at university!