Name of the opportunity: EY GDS Young Tax Professional of the Year
Basis of selection: I made it up to Top 200 in YTPY 2020 from India.
1. You are not told about the competition dates well in advance, but yes, you are told that this competition, although is searching for ‘Global Tax Professional of the Year,’ where you’d be competing against the best minds of your country and almost 20 others, will not be solely about ‘tax.’ Your personality is what will take you ahead in this competition, over your knowledge of tax.
2. The competition in itself spans over a good period of time in the year. It will start in as early as June-July, when the names will be called. The next round will begin in August, for which we were given a prior notice of 5 days.
3. No matter what round it is, the EY team takes a session with all the prospective candidates to apprise them of what lies ahead. They’d be helpful and cooperative all along, and even considerate to take your questions, if you have any. The session will happen a few days prior to the first screening test.
4. The first round comprises two competitions rolled into one:
5. The exams occur back-to-back, and you don’t have the opportunity to save the answers and continue later from the other stage. Even though you can always “mark for review” any question that you are unsure about, I’d suggest otherwise. Just go with what feels right. They want to test your skills under pressure. The exam is live with your PC’s camera on, and any suspicion of malpractice leads to disqualification.
6. Further, you can make it to Stage-B only if you are able to clear Stage-A.
7. Stage-A is about your qualitative and quantitative aptitude. There are no questions about the current affairs, for the sake of clarity. I was surprised to see the first stage having only 5 questions related to taxation law out of 35. The exam has been designed by keeping in perspective even the most disadvantaged student, which ensures that this is an equal-playing field, no matter how privileged the student is.
8. Stage-A- 35 questions in 45 minutes. Feels sufficient, and it is. Regarding how to prepare, I hadn’t. I was interning in an organisation then and the work pressure was immense. I knew I couldn’t work on my skills as it is in 5 days. So I just sat with a composed mind in front of my computer, told myself “you got it,” and set off as soon as the link became available.
9. The first few minutes, the EY team takes you through all the necessary instructions, checks your camera, your identity, and then you are allowed to take the exam.
10. If you make it through Stage-A, you are immediately told within a few seconds by an automatic grading system and you are given the choice to continue. If you fail to clear the first stage, the tab automatically closes.
11. Stage-B- 60 questions; 15 minutes.
This stage will be entirely about your personality- how are you as a human, how many life skills do you have, how passionate you are towards other people- all in all, your emotional quotient is unveiled. In this stage, “there are no right or wrong answers,” as is displayed right there at the top of your screen. You just go with what you feel like you’d do. As soon as you start calculating the odds of “what must I do? What would an utterly virtuous human do?” you’d run out of time.
I was honest with my answers. The questions were majorly based upon real-life situations. For instance, where it asked me ‘if you will help a human despite not liking that person,’ I chose ‘yes’ because that is what I generally do. Likewise, when I was asked ‘what sounds more like you: a socialising personality or rather an isolating personality?’ Despite knowing that EY stands strongly pro-socialisation, I went with the choice of ‘isolation,’ because that is what feels like me. I made no attempt to “fit-in,” like some of my peers did by choosing highly likable answers. When you attempt the exam, you’d observe that it is very smartly framed. For every value, you’d have a dozen questions inspecting it from multitudinous angles. Therefore, don’t prefer being someone that you are not. The AI tools are highly efficient in determining the qualities of a person and bringing out real from the fake. Who doesn’t prefer honesty over pretentiousness?
12. The declaration of results put me in Top 200 students from India. Only another batchmate of mine was selected amongst the pool of students, who herself made it a point to be honest with her answers. Another session with the professional of EY YTPY, and they explained how it would proceed from here. A write-up was circulated, and based upon the reading from that, students would be further classified into top 20 > top 8 > top 3.
13. On the day of my interview, it was funny how everything went wrong. As I was in my village then, and it was August, just an hour before my interview slot, it started pouring down heavily. As a consequence of that, there was a power-cut. It wasn’t an issue as such as we had a power backup, but still, it panicked me a bit. My interview was fixed at 11:15 AM. At 11:10, as soon as I clicked on the link, my PC hanged. Those moments when you just want to punch a hole through your laptop’s screen- that moment it was. Then, by the time it restarted and I joined, it already was 11:17. The officials were very supportive. They said it was understandable and asked me the first question. I started answering. Two minutes into it and they told me that I wasn’t audible clearly. They allowed me to keep my camera off. (Panicked a little more) Then I continued with my answer. After a couple of minutes Sir unmuted himself and told that I was still not audible, and that we could connect over phone call instead. It was already 11:25 by then- all I had at my disposal were 10 more minutes to prove that I was worthy of moving ahead. I felt the time slipping away. My hands started shaking. It was here where it actually started falling apart. I knew I wasn’t going to make it. Obviously. I joined the call and was politely told “we are used to it, don’t worry.” Much appreciated motivation. Ma’am, asked me one more question, and I put in all that I had learnt, read, and understood in the past few days. Everything. At the end, where I was partially satisfied ‘finally, nevertheless they know I studied at least,’ I was told, ‘you are still not audible. It is alright, I think we are done.’ I stared blankly at the wall, and then admitted indeed, ‘we are done.’
14. The results came out, I obviously did not get in. My gorgeous friend did, and proceeded till the Top 8. I am glad I could be there to cheer her up and appreciate every feat of hers throughout the competition.
15. One piece of advice: Do not go by the notion that the interviewers would ask you the same question that they asked your friend. There are many interviewers at this stage and every interviewer has his/her/their own standard and viewpoint of judging the candidate. Some might prefer you for your hard work, the others might prefer you for your understanding of tax. Subjectivity of opinion does crawl in here at this stage, but largely, I am sure you’d love participating in this competition. It is a journey that prepares you for better future, and of course, a thing worth highlighting in your CV.
How did you know about it: So what happens is that post-release of the invitation, Ernst & Young opens to applications from universities/colleges offering law and chartered accountancy courses. To get into YTPY, you’d have to be in the fourth year (if you are a law student). So, this is legit ‘once in a lifetime opportunity.’ If your college is participating in it, you’d obviously get to know about it from your authorities. In case, your college isn’t apparently participating this year, you can always try convincing your authorities to reach out and express their willingness to participate in the YTPY.
EY doesn’t accept individual entries from students.
June 16, 2021