By Charis Tay Jia En, Undergraduate, SMU School of Accountancy
With the workforce becoming increasingly digitalised, data analytics have become an important part of business projects across different industries. As an SMU undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Accountancy with a second major in Data Analytics, I was keen to develop my data analytics skills further to better prepare for the workforce. The SMU-EY Accounting Data Analytics Work Study Elective Programme (WSEP) piqued my interest as I felt that it presented a good opportunity to learn how to apply both my accounting knowledge and data analytical skills to address challenges in the workplace.
Gaining professional experience with data analytics will help build on what I have learnt in university and bolster my learning experience through the transfer of knowledge and skills gained from professionals in EY, one of the biggest accounting firms in the world. Further, given that credits earned under the WSEP could be counted towards my second major, and that I was still able to attend classes at SMU while on internship, this was a great opportunity for me to gain internship experience and still graduate within my intended timeframe.
Role of a data analytics intern at EY
As a data analytics intern in the Financial Accounting Advisory Services department at EY, my main responsibility involved giving advice relating to accounting controls and processes support to the firm’s clients. Most of the clients who I worked with were corporate clients and I was given the chance to sit in during client meetings at the different stages of the engagement. This equipped me with industry insights across various sectors such as the pain points that many corporates face and what we should look out for when designing targeted solutions to best meet their needs.
Some of my projects also included helping clients automate the consolidation of their financial statement and mapping their financial data in real time and transparently, through the use of financial analytics tools. I also helped to build data visualisation dashboards for financial reporting so that clients would be able to gain insights on their financial reports and make data-driven decisions in their businesses.
Throughout my internship stint, my supervisors were always approachable and generous with their knowledge and guidance. This helped my learning process greatly and allowed me to build my confidence in my work.
Charis (centre) and her team at EY
Juggling work and studies with good time management
During the WSEP, I worked four days a week, while the remaining day was dedicated to my studies. Having good time management is key to balancing studying and working simultaneously. I felt that being consistent – be it in my internship or school work – was very important as it prevented the work from piling up and resulting in backlogs. I constantly set a few goals that I wanted to achieve each week and broke down my tasks into stages to ensure that I was on track for both my work and studies, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
It also helped that my managers at EY were very understanding of my university workload, and they continuously checked in on me to ensure that I could cope with the work they had allocated to me. Moreover, EY has a flexible work-from-home policy, and I could choose to work from home on some days to save on travelling time!
Opening up options in our future
Overall, my experience in the Accounting Data Analytics WSEP was a fulfilling one. Looking back, I had gained not only analytical skills but also soft skills, both of which are very transferrable skills I can bring with me in my future careers. Moreover, the connections built with seniors and mentors in EY, along with their advice, have been most invaluable in helping me to better prepare for the workforce.
Lastly, I would encourage juniors to sign up for the WSEP, as internship experiences not only allow you to build your technical skills but also professional skills which cannot be learnt in the classroom. Moreover, internship experiences also let us better understand ourselves and open up options in the type of work or industry we may want to explore upon graduation.
Learn more about SMU Work-Study Elective Programmes at SOA here.