Aryan Rafiq

What are you doing now?

I’m a management consultant in Financial Services with EY (Formerly Ernst & Young).

What route did you take to get here?

I applied to the Graduate scheme and after the rigorous five stages, was lucky enough to be offered a place on their prestigious scheme.

Significant decisions I had to make

The main decisions I had to make were career choice and my approach to my studies. If you told me three years ago I would have offers from and be working at one of the ‘big four’ I would not have believed you, but two things primarily determined this.

My wake-up call after my first year of university. After not studying as hard as I should have, I realised that if I was going to be successful after university I really needed to get my head down and make sure I got a good grade, to give me a good chance of landing a decent job or be able to do a masters at Oxbridge. I managed to get a First, helping me to distinguish myself from the crowd.

Applying for graduate schemes – I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after university, but after some wise words from my Dad (something around get off my behind and biting the bullet), I applied for all of the ‘big four’ as I thought it would be an interesting career route.

What is good about what your career offers you?

There are three stand out things working for a big multinational company that I like.

The networks, the locations and the opportunities.

Most challenging year whilst at DHSB

This really depends on the person. We all ‘find our feet’ at different points at school. For me the Sixth Form was more of a challenge than the other years due to a few different factors. The subjects get a lot more technical at A level. In addition to this the dynamic of things such as ‘free periods’, being able/learning to driving and the freedom of finally being able to go out, means it is easy to focus on things other than studies…

If you don’t get Year 12 right then Year 13 is an uphill struggle and can dent your university chances, making your life a lot harder in the long run. Whilst this might sound all too distant to believe for some of you, it became an all too real experience for me – so please learn from my lessons!

Advice for current students?

Years 7 – 9: It’s always important to have a good foundation – as things only get tougher the further ahead the path you progress, so make sure you work and play hard.

Year 10 – 11: When applying for jobs/university, I was asked to see all of my GCSE certificates. It might feel like these exams are only the first of many but these grades really do stick with you, so do yourself justice.

Year 12 – 13: Similarly to the GCSEs not only did universities ask for my A level grades, they wanted the mark – so they can distinguish the top candidates. For my job applications, firms wanted to see my unit marks for all of my university courses including first year.

My main pointer would be to ensure you are well rounded. Study hard, but make sure you do other things to distinguish yourself too – it’s never too late!

Reach out and listen to your teachers. Never again will you have the ability to seek help from someone who has vast amount of experience and a genuine interest in supporting you – you’ll certainly miss it when it’s gone!