Degree: Modern Languages, 2.1, Trinity College, Cambridge
Year of graduation: 2005
Occupation: Audit assistant at Baker Tilly
What do you do in your job?
When I joined Baker Tilly in August 2005, I was given a three-year training contract. In that time, we’re expected to do an accountancy qualification and learn how to do external audit work. The team I work in does external audits of organistions within the public sector – such as town and district councils, NHS trusts and primary care trusts. The biggest part of this involves checking financial statements, although there are also many other day-to-day activities such as checking the organisation’s use of resources. We are mostly based at the client’s premises. The time spent with each client varies a lot, although it averages around two weeks.
What was your motivation in applying?
I didn’t want to go onto further education after my degree, because my student loan was building up at a terrifying rate. But I wanted to get a further qualification, and accounting seemed an obvious solution. I liked the idea of working in public sector organisations because I didn’t want to just build up profits for shareholders. Baker Tilly provided that opportunity.
What did the application process involve?
It started off with an online application, which involved sending in a CV and answering a few questions. After that, I got a letter offering me the chance to attend a first interview with HR and to do some psychometric tests. From there, I had an interview with a partner from my department, who gave me an assignment to do. Then I got a job offer.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I like not having to sit at the same desk, looking at the same computer, doing the same thing every day. And contrary to popular opinion, accounting isn’t all about calculators and filing – it’s actually very people-oriented.
Most challenging part of your job?
One of the things that didn’t occur to me until I worked here was how sensitive you have to be in telling people when you don’t agree with the way they’re working. That can get a bit political.
Any qualifications involved?
The CIPFA qualification involves three stages – the certificate, the diploma and the final test. I’m halfway through the diploma stage. Every year, I go to college from February to April and from September to November for one or two days a week to study for CIPFA. You can do it in three-week blocks instead, but I prefer splitting it up. There are also exams, which you do every June and December. There are four exams at the certificate stage, seven at diploma stage, and two final exams. You’re also expected to produce a portfolio, showing that you’ve spent 400 days in the workplace and that you’ve gained specific skills. While a lot of studying and reading is involved, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find the maths isn’t as hard as I’d anticipated.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field?
Look at as many employers as possible, and apply only to ones where you feel you’ll be treated like a person, rather than as just another cog in the wheel.