BEP Days 4 and 5

The last 2 days of BEP went by in a jiff. Thursday kicked off with a Q & A session with the auditing clerks, and in between numerous questions, we managed to gauge a salary bracket out of them… and boy, was it depressing! The starting net salary for a first year clerk is just below the R6 000 p.m mark, which barely covers rent, car and food; never mind the luxuries. However, they do get 2 increases in the first year, so at least there will be something to look forward to.

Next up, we had a lego building session – with a twist. Only one person in the group got to see a 2D picture of a model we were supposed to build. She must then direct the builders on how to fit all the pieces together without physically touching any of the blocks. The builders couldn’t talk so they could only rely on the information that was communicated to them. The remaining two members were the negotiators. Sounded like a cool title right? Well, it actually turned out to be the most boring role. I was the negotiator in my group because I had to rush to the WC while the rest decided on who must do what, so I didn’t have much choice. My job was basically to run to the other groups and negotiate the parts we were missing (we pretty much had everything already so that was a rather boring exercise). However, it was a great team building game and I think we all ended up learning something valuable.

The other fun activity for that day was the pub quiz. The categories varied quite nicely and the question were weird, wacky and wonderful. The quiz was then followed by drinks and those who stayed on had a nice chat with some of the clerks.

Friday was a relatively short day (we finished at 1 \o/). We had some time to prepare for our presentation and it was really entertaining to see everyone’s pitches. There were cross-dressers, wigs, funny videos and a whole lot of laughter that came with them.

The prize giving was next and I was just happy that I didn’t have to go home empty handed. I actually got some pretty cool stationery and a slab of chocolate.

All in all, it was an amazing week. I had such a wonderful experience that it made me not dread the upcoming years of slave labour and torture.

BEP Day 3

This is going to be a relatively short post because I am utterly exhausted – not so much by the day’s events, but rather by the 60 minutes I spent in traffic when the trip should have taken 15. Watching the numerous taxis speed past in the yellow lines didn’t help improve my mood either.

We drove all the way to Paarl today to tour the Tiger Brands factories. We were able to see the inside of their warehouses and production plants, as well as how their products (namely jam) were made from start to finish. It was an interesting process to observe and I was surprised at how clean and tidy everything was.

We then went to Paarl mall for lunch and got back to the office around mid afternoon. The rest of the day was covered by some talks and an impromptu public speaking session.

Right now, I’m busy working on a business proposal which I have to present on Friday. Will upload the presentation when I’m done.


BEP Day 2

It started off as a pretty chilled day with a series of talks from the various departments within Ernst & Young. Some interesting pointers to note:

The IT Department:
– A place where the computer geeks congregate and their services include (but are not limited to): free technical support and the occasional provision of eye-candy.
– Headed by a CA (currently a woman), so my dream of dominating a group of Linux geeks with a 150 wpm may not be too unrealistic after all.

The Forensics Department:

– Pretty similar to the Audit Department, with the exception of running the risk of having your front door ripped off and your laptop stolen while you are sleeping because the syndicates you are auditing feel threatened by your work. (True story).
– Oh and you get to work with real ex-law enforcements.
– Not as cool as C.S.I. They probably don’t wear high-heels while running down a deserted alley. (Not quite sure if that’s an actual scene from the series because I’ve never actually watched it, but it seems like a pretty generic fit.)

The Tax Department
– Tax has always been one of my favourite courses, mostly due to the fact that I want to be able to cash in on as many loop holes in the Act as I possibly can. The talk was fairly interesting but was far too broad to be value-adding.
– The team consists of lawyers… Worst. Nightmare. Ever.
– Ok, lawyers aren’t that bad… as long as they’re not talking.

After lunch, we were put into teams for The Amazing Race: E&Y. Our tasks included (amongst others):
– Sing the national anthem with a street-vendor (the clue said anybody in rags but we figured street vendors were more accommodating than a homeless person)
– Buy a rose, go on one knee and propose to a random person (I was rejected twice :'()
– Go to Company Gardens and feed peanuts to squirrels
– Take a picture in front of a Simpsons statue
– Buy a gift from Green Market Square
– Eat an ice-cream from McDonald’s

It was a fun, exhausting, exciting day. Even though my team came second (and missed out on a big prize) I still enjoyed every second of it.

P.S. Lunch was AMAZING!

BEP Day 1

Today was the first of Ernst & Young’s Business Experience Programme, and “suitably impressed” would have been an understatement. Having now experienced the cultures and ethos of two of the Big Four auditing firms, I must admit E&Y has made a far better impression than the other.

While the offices looked roughly the same, it was the time and effort expended by the E&Y team that made all the difference. (Oh – and the fact that they gave us free breakfast and had a better lunch option was also pretty neat.)

Starting the day at 06h15 was tough, especially since my sleeping pattern had been from 00h00 to 08h00 the entire year. (And being the first day, I didn’t know there was going to be free breakfast so I force fed spoonfuls of All Bran to my grumbling stomach instead.)

My lift arrived promptly and we ventured into the E&Y building only to be met with half a dozen other students already waiting. Turned out, being half an hour early wasn’t that big of a deal – not in the accounting world.

The ice breakers were fun (and generic – but that couldn’t really be helped). I was a little bummed that I was put in a group of two (inter alia) not-so-bright sparks who didn’t really contribute much (read: at all). They were also 90 minutes late. Perhaps they were just trying to stay true to their characters.

The talks by the trainees and partners were informative, interesting and honest. They were definitely more frank (than the other firm) and focused more on the things we didn’t know rather than elaborating on common knowledge. E&Y have always been on the forefront of having a good reputation and of treating their employees really well; and this, I gauged from the first hour of meeting the people.

The most fun activity of the day was when we had to design a box in such a way that would prevent an egg from breaking after a 5 stories fall. Watching the trainees drop a dozen eggs off the top of the E&Y building was quite entertaining as they missed the box more often than not and the poor eggs splattered all over the sidewalk.

All in all, it was a fun-filled day, and I wasn’t even tired!