Unparalleled Opportunities: Video Transcript

Mike Moloney (BA History and Political Science, Miami, 1992) [Americas Knowledge Leader for one of Ernst & Young's global business units, EY Knowledge]: I chose Miami primarily based upon the reputation, and Miami has a great reputation in the academic world and when I was applying to colleges in my senior year, I applied to four schools: Miami and three private schools out east. Miami clearly, in my opinion, was the best choice that I made, and the opportunities afforded to a student, I think, are unparalleled.

I was a double major in both history and political science. I chose both of those fields primarily because of what I felt would be a good platform to prepare me for, quite frankly, anything. If I wanted to go into the field of law, if I wanted to go into the field of business or academics, I felt that those two majors would really prepare me for just about anything. And I think I was right.

I work for Ernst & Young. I'm the Americas lead of one of our global business units, EY Knowledge, and we support the four service lines of Ernst & Young: audit, tax, transactions, and advisory. What we primarily do is develop thought leadership methodologies and enabling technologies for our practitioners in the field.

Ernst & Young is a huge employer of Miami grads. I think we're one of the leading employers coming off of campus, and we look for both business students, obviously, and also liberal arts undergrad majors. Liberal arts undergrad majors are students that we look for for the broader critical thinking skills. I think that the background and the training from a liberal arts education really gives students the opportunity to think critically about different problems, to think creatively, to collaborate, to communicate effectively—all things that I think are very critical in today's business world. And I think the liberal arts background, to some degree regardless of what the major is, whether it's history or biology or chemistry or communications—those core aspects of a liberal arts degree, I think, are really important, and what we've seen also make the student effective, ultimately as an employee of a firm like Ernst & Young.

I think a liberal arts education really prepares a student for just about anything in life, regardless of what they choose to do as their ultimate professional field. I think that a liberal arts education prepares students to do two things in particular: one, critical thinking, which I think is a skill that, again, regardless of what you choose to do, is of utmost importance. I also think a liberal arts education trains individuals to communicate effectively. I find that communication skills are one of the most valuable aspects of any business career, and I think if you look at a liberal arts education, those two—problem solving and communications skills—are the foundation of a liberal arts education that ultimately leads to being successful in the business world.

When Ernst & Young hires an intern for the summer, we like to really give them a real-world experience, so during that 8-week period, we embed them in a project team. Those projects can take any number of forms, so somebody can be involved in a communications project, in IT, or they can play a program or project manager role. The key is, from our standpoint, is we want to give the students two things: one, a real-world experience and also ownership of a project. So, during the course of an 8-week internship, the student really starts a project, leads it, interacts with various levels of the organization, and ultimately at the end of that 8-week period, delivers—delivers the project, reports out findings, makes recommendations, and I think, from our standpoint, the firm benefits greatly from having new, fresh thinking, and I think perhaps as important, the students benefit from what I would consider the great experience. You get an opportunity to work with individuals not only from around the nation but in many cases around the world, and I think it's an experience that can literally launch a student on the path to success.

If I had to give some advice to Miami students that were looking for opportunities in the corporate world, from either an internship or a full-time standpoint after graduation, a couple things. First of all, I suggest they start early. It's incredibly competitive out there, and the earlier that you start in the process, whether it's internship or full-time, the better. Secondly, I would suggest that you have a story to tell, and as part of that, have a story that is unique to you, that has some quantifiable and qualitative results. I recognize that folks are coming out of the undergrad experience, so the actual job experiences in many cases isn't what you typically expect in the real world, per se, but I would say take what you have as an experience and really show things like leadership, problem solving, communications skills, etc.

If you think about the activities that you're involved in in undergrad, whether it's a sorority or a fraternity or a student body organization or intramural sports or any array, whether you're working on campus, you can take apart those experiences and really show, I think, almost any aspect that would be attractive to an employer, such as an ability to lead a team if you're working uptown, let's say at a restaurant. Or if you're the communications lead as part of your sorority, that's a critical skill that's required, or you could be the treasurer of an organization, monetary skills and organization—all things that people look for when they're interviewing individuals. I think that companies recognize the fact that the experiences from a professional standpoint are going to be fairly limited, but what they're looking for are those unique aspects that ultimately position somebody for success, such as leadership or managerial or problem solving or, frankly, collaboration, working in a team environment. Those are all things that I think are very much embedded in any one of the student experiences.

[September 2013]