For many university students, it can be difficult to picture the day-to-day reality of working life. Before this internship, I only vaguely understood what consultants do. The experience taught me that consultants have a varied and stimulating work-life, and I came to understand the full range of their activities – from the simple to the most complex tasks. There is often a lot of travel involved, and my internship reflected this. I worked between two cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for three weeks. This unique exposure was essential to widening my knowledge about the career that I will hope to have in the near future.
It is both very exciting and very intimidating to join one of the Big Four companies; especially when it is your first experience of working life. Last year, EY won an MCA award for the best customer engagement project, and so I felt a lot of pressure to perform in what I anticipated to be an environment with very high standards. Although my internship was arranged through EY, I spent the majority of my time with EY-Seren, their experience design consultancy that provides transformative solutions based on customer research and insight. I arrived feeling daunted and overwhelmed, but from my first day at EY-Seren in Dubai I was put at ease.
Throughout my internship, I felt like I was a part of the team and everyone I worked with helped enrich my knowledge and understanding of project-work. I gained valuable technical skills that I can take away with me. For example, prior to my internship I didn’t understand the complexity of creating impactful visual design when presenting ideas and initiatives to clients. Shean (Lead Service Designer, EY-Seren) introduced me to the tool “InDesign”, which I started to use independently towards the end of my internship to create and develop personas for a government client. This task allowed me to understand the process of creating visual representations, and how much precision needed from designers. The team was very hands-on. Shean made sure I was always learning, and that my work was valuable, and Wa'ad (Senior Graphic Designer, EY-Seren) and Zeina (Senior Service Designer, EY-Seren) provided me with all the support and guidance needed to progress my design skills. I believe their approach distinguished this internship experience from many others, and they provided me with all the guidance needed to make this a very memorable first work experience.
I was impressed by the caliber of staff, who were all hard-working and intelligent. Joseph (Director, EY), for example, has exceptional knowledge and his attitude gave me the determination to want to worker harder and go one step further. Mahmoud (Senior Consultant, EY) made sure that I had a clear technical understanding of the tasks assigned to me, which I was extremely appreciative of. Examples include: Customer Journey Mapping, formulating and extracting the content from all initiatives across the channel-assessment journey experience; formulating blueprints for services; generating initiative cards and much more. Working with him showed me how customers’ experiences drive innovations, providing the basis of the solutions to our clients’ concerns.
In addition to getting a lot of exposure to project work and different skills, the internship really helped me develop socially. There was a transparency between every member of the team, regardless of his or her rank, and EY-Seren’s friendly environment made me feel more confident, despite the fact that I was the newest and youngest addition to the team. I learned a lot about the different departments, and meeting so many friendly people gave me the confidence to ask questions. Because the team were so supportive and patient I felt comfortable, and was more able to successfully complete tasks I was assigned.
It was a great feeling to see my skills evolve throughout the internship, and fulfilling to present quality work that was valued. I would like to thank all the team for their continued support and kindness throughout, it was an incredible experience and I hope to be back one day as a full-time consultant.
Sara Al Ashquar was born and raised in Dubai, and has a Palestinian and Jordanian background. She is currently a student at Kings College London, studying BSc Business Management. She completed a one month internship at EY MENA, including three weeks with the EY-Seren MENA team over the Summer.