Lavanya Sivakumar: Assurance Associate at EY

Featured Success Stories

August 27, 2020

Lavanya's journey from Malaysia to EY

Our recent success story is Lavanya Sivakumar. Originally from Malaysia, she is a graduate from the University of Reading where she studied Accounting and Management with a placement experience. For her placement year, she completed a 13-month internship as a Finance intern at GE Healthcare in North London.

Now, she has secured a graduate job at EY as an Assurance Associate. It is a three-year program and EY will sponsor for her to get her accounting qualification.  

What resources came in handy during her job hunt as an international student?

She tells us, "I used several platforms and websites such as Student Circus, Graduate Jobs, Milkround, Target Jobs and good ol' Google to help me find a job. Student Circus was very helpful because all the companies advertised on the website sponsored visa, so it saved me time doing my research or contacting the company to see if they sponsored visas." 

"I was already quite familiar with the visa sponsorship system because in order to come study in the UK, I required a Tier 4 student visa. I didn't know that there was a list of registered sponsors, but I did learn that even though a company might be on that list, it doesn’t mean that they will sponsor the visa for graduates," she added.

Added to this was a lean time pressure, "With the Tier 4 visa, I only had 4 months to find a job after my graduation date. This isn’t a lot of time and I was worried that I would not find a role before my visa expires."

Student Circus was very helpful because all the companies advertised on the website sponsored visa, so it saved me time doing my research or contacting the company to see if they sponsored visas.

Lavanya shares that she found the University Career Service super helpful during her job search, "They helped me with checking my CV and interview practice. I met up with the careers team about once a week for interview practice and they asked me a wide range of questions in order for me to prepare. They recommend I used Graduates First which is a website that provides free psychometric tests."

What was the application process like?

To secure a graduate role in the UK, I applied to 195 job applications, it was a very challenging process. For the majority of the jobs in the UK, I had to submit an application and this was proceeded by an online test, which included numerical test, verbal test, logic test, and sometimes, situational judgement tests as well. After that, there would be a video interview where they would present you with questions and you would have to record yourself answering that question. For most of the jobs, you are only given one attempt to answer this video, so you really have to know your answer on the spot before recording yourself. 

After that, it was an assessment centre. Usually, at these assessment centres, there would be several activities that you have to complete including some tests as well as group exercises to show how well you work with a team, and after that, there will be an interview as well. 

The EY application process took 3 months from start to finish. The application process, she shares, was fairly uniform across various companies: First, I had to submit my application where I wrote about my education and work experience, followed immediately by a numerical test online. 

"For the graduate scheme, I also had to have an interview with a partner, who is a senior manager at my office. I had to give a 10-minute business presentation, followed by a strengths-based interview," she shares.

Her handy tip to prospective applicants? These tests are to see how well you score based on time and accuracy. My advice is to practice the psychometric testing as many companies have this as their first stage in the application process. 

The second stage involved a case study and a video interview: I had to calculate some numerical questions relating to financial statements and for the video interview I had to answer questions about why I wanted to work in Assurance and the location that I chose.

The third step of the application process was the assessment centre. Due to COVID-19, all assessment centres were online. I had to read a case study and give recommendations on how to improve the business in the case study using technology such as Artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc.

For all graduate roles, there is an extra step in the application process which is the interview with a senior manager or partner. This was done online, and the interview was casual. I had to create a five-minute presentation on a chosen question, and this was done prior to the interview. During the interview, I presented my presentation and asked questions regarding my presentation. After the presentation, I was asked strengths-based questions. The interview was about 60 mins. 

"Due to COVID-19, all assessment centres were online. "

What happens once you've bagged the job?
I had to get the job offer first before undergoing my visa sponsorship. I told EY at the beginning of my application process that I would require a visa to do the role. The company was very helpful in the visa processing. I had to give them documents such as my passport, and university transcripts. EY filled out the immigration documents and sent it to me to review before sending it to the Home Office. 

A final word of advice? Rejections mean you're trying!

My advice is to start applying early. When you apply early you have more choice and opportunities for a job. Some companies may say that they have a deadline but once roles start being filled, they will decide to close applications early. My second advice is to not give up. I had many rejections before finding a job. As long as you keep trying and pushing, you will find the right role!  

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