Striking a Balance

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While searching for an internship to pursue, I struggled to cut my resume down from three pages to just one. Before I joined the EY Intuitive team, I worked a part-time job twenty hours a week on top of being a research assistant to a PhD student, took on a full course load, sat on two executive boards, facilitated a “Lean In circle,” was elected President of a student organization, joined an honors fraternity, and volunteered as an event coordinator for a large charity event.

Most days, I am grateful for my drive, but a part of me has always resented how much my work-work-work attitude has held me back from being the “real me” when I’m in a professional environment. I have always felt a divide between my work self and my true self.

I came to my EY Intuitive interview and met with my now-mentor, Donamarie. She laughed as she reviewed my resume and said, “Hmm, I’m not sure you’ll fit in here. We’re a little weird.”

It was a blow. I knew I wanted this job after watching the studio’s culture reel, but I didn’t yet know how to say “I’m a little weird, too!” while also saying “I’m a hard-working and intelligent person.” For the first time, I felt that I could be more authentic, more fun, more “me” in an interview.

Now, I am close to wrapping up an internship experience that has far surpassed my expectations. I’ve learned about project management, resourcing, budgeting, leadership and planning—and have been exposed to a world of tech, design and research in a capacity I never imagined for myself. But the lesson that I value the most from my time here is how to work hard and play hard.

The phrase “Work hard, play hard” is painted on the office wall behind me as I write this piece. It’s a mantra that I’ve been trying to perfect, and I am grateful to have landed in a place where the people embody it so effortlessly. Brainstorming meetings are full of laughter as we work through the kick-off of our next project. One of our designers brings her puppy into the office and I pet it while finishing an email. Our team is hailed for its work on a client project, and excited chants of “How we do!” echo through the hallways. Happiness and dedication are so apparent here—you can feel it as you walk through the open workspace.

I realize now that fitting into the EY Intuitive family wasn’t about turning off my professionalism and hard-working attitude. Instead, this experience has taught me when it’s beneficial to let my walls down and how to balance being both the “work me” and the real me. I’ve realized that transparency and collaboration are essential to our work, and you can’t achieve either when you’re trying to maintain a practiced persona. I’ve learned that you can get just as much done in jeans as you can in a suit—and that sometimes being a little weird is exactly what you need to have a breakthrough on a tough project.

The EY Intuitive team enjoys a work environment that fosters creativity and goodwill among employees, which in turn drives our success. Dr. David Abramis, who has studied fun in the workplace for years, has found that “people who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive [and] better decision makers. ” Conversely, companies that don’t prioritize employee engagement and culture experience higher turnover rates and lower morale. The power of play has long been underestimated in the American business culture, which is why the emerging workforce has higher job turnover rates and lower job satisfaction. However, when you join the EY Intuitive team, you join a family. And just like any good family, you do your part to support everyone’s growth and well-being, which includes sharing meals, music and laughs at the end of the day.


Photo by Michael McAghon, illustration by Brandon Sax

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Elle Savage