EY CEO Mark Weinberger addresses the audience.
EY CEO Mark Weinberger addresses the audience. Photo: EY

Last week, EY saw an all-time high 180 minority students representing 92 US campuses attend the firm's 11th annual "Discover EY" event in Manhattan.

The three-day, all expense-paid program invites top minority college students studying professional services to participate in activities ranging from leadership development, hands-on professional learning projects, and networking with fellow students and professionals alike.

"'Discover EY' is one of the many ways our organization seeks to open doors for high-achieving future talent, providing insight and transparency into EY’s culture and its many opportunities,” stated EY global chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger. “We are seeing a tremendous demand for top talent across various disciplines to serve our diverse clients and our communities. Given the current climate of the global workforce, we will need to build diverse, high performing teams that can drive innovative solutions in the US and globally.”

Addressing the "Discover EY" participants directly last Wednesday morning, Weinberger urged students to be "the CEO of your own life. It’s so much easier to see the risk than the opportunity, so don’t focus on the risk. The most important question to me is ‘Why?'"

Noting that he had previously left EY three times before returning as CEO, Weinberger also told students to be open to adaptation.

“You’re not going to be prepared for anything when you take it," he advised the college students. "What’s really important to recognize, I think, is that your degree enables you; it doesn’t define you.”

Speaking with Accounting Today, Natasha Stough, EY Americas director of campus recruiting, felt that the firm has been more open to student desires during the recruiting process as of late.

"Our approach is really talking about the firm first," she says. "So because [students] are going to move around and want a broad range of opportunities, our focus is really to talk about EY first and our overall opportunities, our culture, [and] how we operate. We’re not successful if we talk about, ‘You need to join our audit practice, in this state, doing this.’ What we find works much better is talking to them about the broad firm. They want a buffet of opportunity."

Stough also sees a shift in what the current generation of students ultimately want and prize in their soon-to-be professional careers.

“They’re looking for a broader purpose and they want to make a difference," she says. "We see that when we talk to students on campus now, with Gen Z students who are one or two years into college. They take a more thoughtful approach to the job search and the ‘why’ behind what we’re doing. That is different from what we’ve seen in the past.”

For more on "Discover EY" and the firm, head to EY's site here.

Sean McCabe

Sean McCabe is a senior editor with Accounting Today.