Alex Brechner – EY Brisbane, Australia

IMG_20140722_220126 Over the course of eight weeks, I hit five major cities, four time zones, three different coasts, and two continents as an intern with Ernst & Young (EY). My internship began in mid-June in San Francisco as a Business Advisor Program intern with EY’s Financial Services Office. There I learned about EY’s consulting methods, organizational structure, and major clients; met my fellow summer interns; and played trampoline dodgeball with all of the other Business Advisor Program employees

On June 27, I took a 13-hour flight to Sydney Airport, in Australia’s most populous city, as part of the EY Global Student Experiences program. The program is designed to give interns the opportunity to gain global business experience, while strengthening ties between EY’s offices around the globe. I arrived in Sydney with about 26 other interns from across the United States for two days of exploring Sydney Harbour (you get used to spelling things with extra u’s after a while), eating meat pies, and battling jetlag. After making friends with people from just about everywhere in the U.S., we went our separate ways within Australia. Some stayed in Sydney, others spent the next four weeks in Melbourne, a few traveled to Perth, and five of us – myself included – worked in Brisbane.

My role, while abroad, was performance improvement intern with the Customer Experience team. We planned internal operations (including an entirely new brand in one case) to create improved customer experiences for our client’s target audiences to create more brand loyalty and higher lifetime value amongst those customers. This involved everything from working in the beautiful Brisbane EY office to commuting to a suburb about half an hour outside of Brisbane to operating out of a hotel room while performing market research. After this summer, I am markedly better in Microsoft Office, but more importantly, leaps and bounds better at communicating in a corporate setting.

My weekends were far from a chance to wind down, but I wouldn’t have changed them for the world. During our first weekend, my fellow co-workers and I drove to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island and the only island where tall rainforests grow out of sand dunes. The next weekend we flew to Cairns, where we went diving at the Great Barrier Reef and jungle surfing across the tree tops of the Daintree Rainforest. Our final weekend, we took in a few of Brisbane’s countless local markets and went to a koala sanctuary, where we were able to feed kangaroos out of our hands and hold koalas. Those are experiences I will never forget.

After returning from my Australian adventure, I went straight to Orlando for EY’s end-of-the-summer International Intern Leadership Conference, where interns from all over the globe recounted their intern experiences while staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Finally, I returned to finish up the last two weeks of my internship back where I started in San Francisco. There, I worked with financial clients, including a major bank with over $50 billion in assets.

All in all, my summer taught me a great deal about the skills and attitude I need to work full time. However, the experiences I gained while travelling the globe taught me so much more about myself. I can’t thank EY enough for the opportunity. It was a summer I will never forget.