Hannah – Law
Hannah studied law at Bournemouth University. She graduated in 2013 and joined EY as graduate trainee in Financial Services Consulting in September 2014.
When did you start thinking about employers and your career, and what did you do to set the ball rolling?
“Originally I wanted to be a family solicitor. But during a placement in a family law firm, I realised that I was more interested in finance law than in family law.
“So in my final year I took the finance law options and decided to look for a career in the financial services sector.
“But I didn’t want to work in finance law per se – I wanted to work in a business environment that focused on the legal aspects of finance.
What made you realise you could get a job at EY with a law degree, and what drew you to EY in particular?
“My contacts in finances services told me that the regulatory compliance market was buoyant, and that EY was a market leader.
“So I started looking into EY and discovered that it was a highly ranked graduate employer that hired more on strengths than on degree grades or subjects.
“This was confirmed to me at my first meeting with EY – it was fine for me to apply to join its financial services business with a law degree.
“I was also assured that the role wouldn’t have me focusing solely on the law or sitting more exams.
What skills and experiences helped you through EY’s application and selection process?
“I’d prepared for the application process by doing a lot of tests – both online ones and the ones you can buy in a pack in shops – and that was very helpful.
“I needed to show that I had good levels of numeracy and verbal reasoning skills – but analytical skills and organisational skills were also necessary.
“During the interview stages I had to show that I could hold engaging one-to-one conversations about finance-related topics. It’s about presenting yourself as who you really are and what genuinely interests you.”
What skills from your degree have you been able to transfer to your role at EY?
“Report writing and essay writing are the same really – you take a position, structure an argument and present an evidence-based conclusion – and it’s as important at EY as it is at university.
“You also have to be able to digest a significant amount of legislative information about compliance and summarise the key points in slides and so on.
“Another important skill is public speaking. At university we practiced presenting cases, like barristers do in court, and this has helped me – plus we get excellent presentation skills training at EY.
“The process of studying law has taught me how to be objective. I can take the various views of stakeholders and manage them constructively.”
How has EY supported your transition from a law degree into business?
“EY has been outstanding in supporting my transition, especially because I have dyslexia.
“My type of dyslexia makes me good with shapes and numbers, a quick reader and a sharp lateral thinker – and EY sees these as as an advantage.
“The training that EY provides is high class – we went on a week’s residential course to prepare us for consulting and the trainers made sure everyone was at the same level.
“My team at work is very supportive, and so is my career counsellor whose advice I seek regularly, and the senior managers and partners also value my input even though I’m relatively inexperienced.”
What advice would you now give to a law student – how should they go about getting a job with an organisation like EY?
“I can’t stress this enough – work experience, work experience, work experience – it’s the one thing I wish I’d got more of.
“Having said that, lack of work experience isn’t a deal breaker and I’m evidence of that being true. However, the graduates with more work experience seem more confident than those with less.
“Be open-minded about the careers options available. Having a law degree won’t hold you back, and neither will a condition like dyslexia – so long as you have other strengths.
“More advice – get an understanding of the business function you’re applying to and look at how it fits into the bigger picture.
“Keep up with the news with publications like the Financial Times – some interview questions are about current affairs, so you need to know what’s going on in the financial world.
“And last but not least, get to as many careers fairs and employer events as you can. Get to know the graduate market and make contacts in the industry – they can give you really keen insights."