Graduate profile: ‘Get comfortable going outside of your comfort zone’

As part of Grad Week we spoke to Caroline Willis from North Carolina who studied Commerce at UCD. She currently works at EY.

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you studied in college

I joined the EY Technology Consulting Graduate Programme in September 2021. I am from North Carolina in the United States and I moved to Ireland in 2017 to complete my bachelor’s degree in Commerce at UCD and my master’s degree in Digital Innovation at the Smurfit School of Business.

What attracted you to the grad programme?

Since starting university I have had a huge interest in the role that technology can play in positively transforming our world. My time as an undergrad allowed me the opportunity to research and better understand the organisations that are leading in this space.

What is the graduate programme like?

The programme gives you great exposure to a whole range of different projects and clients.

While I’ve worked primarily as a financial analyst, I’ve also been able to explore things like project management, data analytics, and tech management while seeing how the firm works with clients to solve new and complex challenges in areas such as sustainability, strategy, cyber and organisational change.


From day one I felt a warm welcome from the whole team and the guidance that I’ve received every step of the way has been helpful in terms of understanding how I can progress in my career.

How important is mentorship to you?

Mentorship has been one of the most valuable elements of my time so far. Once I joined, I was immediately part of a team that was working on a fast-paced project so I hit the ground running. This was challenging and even felt a little daunting, but the support that was offered to me was fantastic. My colleagues have provided an abundance of guidance on how to succeed and develop my skillset.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Having this experience has been invaluable and I’m now 100 per cent clear that tech consulting is what I want to do. I hope that in five years I’ll have gained a broad range of experience before I settle into a specific role.

What’s your advice to graduates applying to the programme?

The best advice I can give is to get comfortable going outside of your comfort zone. While outgoing is my middle name, I had to develop lots of new practical and technical skills, understand new processes, and navigate a whole new world of work – it was a real challenge at times. I think a sense of adventure and curiosity is what has supported me to do well and to help deliver excellence for our clients.