IT Risk Assurance Senior Consultant, EY
My Degree subject: MA Cognitive Science (Humanities), 2015
My current job
IT Risk Assurance Senior Consultant – this entails completing external audits of IT systems in the financial sector to help our financial audit colleagues, as well as doing consultant work regarding IT Risk and Cybersecurity. As a senior consultant I’m usually leading workstreams within projects and reviewing work of consultants.
My career history:
After graduating in 2015 I joined EY’s consultancy graduate programme in IT Risk and Assurance. Since then, I’ve been working for EY in their financial services area on IT audits and cybersecurity projects. I finished my graduate scheme in late 2017 and am now a senior consultant.
How I use my degree skills and/or knowledge in my career
The easy answer is I use the knowledge from my informatics modules, which have greatly helped understand some of the more technical aspects of my work, especially when testing infrastructure and inspecting scripts. However, I find the communication and explanation skills gained during philosophy and linguistics to be even more pervasively used in my work. I’m in a client-facing role, so being able to clearly explain and communicate issues and requests to our clients is incredibly important. In Cognitive Science, we frequently have to put highly technical topics, such as artificial intelligence and neural networks, into more simplistic terms in order to write essays about them in philosophical fashion. This has made technical report writing for my managers much easier, and has proved valuable in my work. This has become even more valuable as I move into a more consultancy-focused role in cybersecurity.
My relevant experience:
Everything! I firmly believe that every experience gives you something you can discuss or use as an example for future behaviour. In particular, a natural curiosity about the world and eagerness to learn new things are the best things to take into the workforce. Employers don’t want a legion of robots at their disposal, they want to hear fresh ideas and have people they can rely on with new and interesting backgrounds and diverse experiences. Work and volunteer experience may help with the transition to a working culture, but the knowledge gained during your degree, the skills used to write essays and solve problems, and your interests outside of academics and work are equally valuable. Not to mention, good interests make discussing your weekends with colleagues all the more interesting!
My career decisions:
My story is probably slightly different from many of yours, being an international student. I wanted to stay in the country to work after graduation, since I had moved my life to Edinburgh (and let’s face it, who would want to leave Edinburgh?). I was limited to jobs that paid the minimum sponsorship salary and were on the Tier 2 sponsorship list, which created its own hardships when job hunting. Because of this, I went to a number of career events with businesses, joined a number of mailing lists, and kept my CV up-to-date throughout my fourth year. My biggest decision was really just to apply to as many jobs that seemed interesting as I could, paying closest attention to the ones I really liked, but keeping others in as practice. This strategy doesn’t work for everyone, but it did for me and I noticed I got more successful as time went on. As an immigrant, I didn’t really have the luxury of being able to wait to consider options, having to start applying early in my fourth year in order to stay.
My advice to current students interested in my area of work
Don’t be turned off by the technical name! You can do IT Risk without a technical background, and the majority of my colleagues are from humanities subjects. With regards to consulting as a whole, employers are generally looking for people who are willing to put the work in to learn the field, rather than those that are already experts. Show your enthusiasm and curiosity more than any technical skill.
My advice on making career decisions?
Use each experience to your advantage. I turned my extensive theatrical resume into a consulting job by finding the shared experiences between the two. Every experience gives you something to take into the next.