EY - Smart Futures
  • Share

Smart Futures offers you an opportunity to have a great paid experience of work. It is a ten month programme which starts with paid work experience during Easter* and summer, it will give you a variety of transferable skills to give you a head start in your career. Smart Futures can make you more employable, helping you get a job after school or go onto higher education.

A mentor will support you throughout the ten months and advise you on one of the biggest career choices you will make: the first step in your working life. You will also be invited to a series of alumni events throughout your final school year.

To be eligible for the programme you will be:

  • Currently in Year 12 (England) or Fifth Year (Scotland)
  • Eligible for free school meals at some point in the past six years (ie household income has been less than £16,190 in England or £16,105 in Scotland)
  • Attending a state school
  • Studying any combination of A-level/International Baccalaureate/BTEC Level 3s/Standards/Highers
  • Ambitious and motivated to join the world of work
  • Looking for a great paid work experience this summer or Easter* that will help you secure a job after school, or a place at university.

*Easter programme only available in London and Manchester

If you meet the above criteria, then please apply now! The programme is running in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol, Reading, the North West (Manchester and Liverpool), London, Luton, Yorkshire (Leeds and Hull) and Southampton.

Want to find out more? Download your copy of the Smart Futures brochure:


Got a question? Download our FAQs:


Want to find out more about the application process? Download the information below:


What does the Smart Futures experience look like?

Week one:

“Week one includes a number of workshops which teach you valuable professional skills through practical tasks. Our sessions were run by EY employees or by other businesses in a number of prestigious locations across the city. Each day I worked with different people, learning to interact, communicate and present in both professional and social environments.”

Katherine, Smart Futures London alumnus

Your three weeks paid work experience kicks off at one of EY’s UK offices - your designated hub for this part of the programme. From day one you will quickly learn the skills required to deliver high quality work and present in front of audiences. Innovative and interactive sessions will cover business skills including:

  • networking
  • team building
  • brainstorming
  • leadership
  • presenting to an audience
“It has been wonderful and I would urge anyone who is even remotely thinking about doing the programme to sign up. It is great fun and you will learn invaluable skills.”
Akhil, Smart Futures Edinburgh alumnus
“I would definitely recommend this program to anyone thinking of applying. It's great for your CV, gives you an insight into the business world and develops skills you can use anywhere.”
Nicola, Smart Futures Yorkshire alumnus
“I didn’t think I’d have a chance [getting onto Smart Futures] a boy from a state comprehensive in East London. How wrong could I have been?”
Adam, Smart Futures London alumnus
“Throughout the programme I was given opportunities to think outside the box, lead, learn and network and most importantly how to transfer these valuable skills into the workplace.”
Katherine, Smart Futures London alumnus

Week two:

“I expected to be sitting around being taught everything in a classroom but in fact it was totally different. We did a lot of group exercises that not only helped our group skills, but it also allowed us to interact with each other and meet new people easily.”

Lorraine, Smart Futures Edinburgh alumnus

You will work in teams to solve real business issues, presenting your findings to influencers and business leaders who represent a variety of organisations and industries. You’ll have an opportunity to:

  • Learn more about different areas of work and gain insight into a range of professions like marketing and recruitment
  • Use the skills developed in week one to present ideas and solutions to real business issues to a panel of judges representing different organisations and industries
  • Learn what it takes to succeed in enterprise: being employed doesn’t always mean working for an organisation, find out what it takes to become an entrepreneur and set up your own business

Week three:

“The week working in the business has been an amazing experience. I have been able to learn skills while meeting some world renowned firms. This week has also made me realise how fun the business world can be, although it is often portrayed as a very serious and formal career path, the people I worked with were friendly, fun and informal.”

Akhil, Smart Futures Edinburgh alumnus

This is when all the business skills you have learnt on the programme are really put to the test. You will spend the week working with a team getting hands on business experience, from pitching to win new work, to creating a marketing campaign or helping an entrepreneur with a business issue they face. Most students tell us this is the best part of the entire programme.

You will round off the week at a graduation ceremony with your new friends and colleagues to celebrate all of your amazing achievements.

Your Smart Futures experience does not end there...

Meet the mentors

During the first three weeks of the programme you will be introduced to your EY Foundation mentor, who will provide you with support and encouragement throughout your final school year, as you make decisions about higher education and your career. You will also be invited to a series of Smart Futures alumni events during your final year at school to further your experience and networks.

Mentors like…

Nick, Audit Manager in Financial Services at EY

Nick says: “Seeing Alfie transform from someone unsure about his future and unaware of the options available to him as a sixth former, into someone who gained a place on EY’s School Leaver Programme through his own hard work has been amazing. I’ve also got a lot out of the experience too. Knowing that I have had a positive influence on Alfie’s development makes me feel incredibly proud.”

Devyani, Senior Manager in Advisory at EY

Devyani says: ““I met Jordan for an hour every month; discussing career choices and options post A level. He is now at the University of Southampton studying Biochemistry. Jordan says having a mentor gave him an objective sounding board to make tough decisions and helped him think differently about his options”

I'm ready for a great experience of work, what next? If you meet the eligibility criteria above...

EY - Access accountancy

Access Accountancy works towards everyone having an equal chance of accessing the accountancy profession. Their vision is a profession that is more representative, at all levels, of the socio-economic demographic of wider society. EY Foundation supports this vision – because we believe that every young person, regardless of background or circumstances, deserves a great start to their working lives.