Joining a graduate scheme is a great way begin a career in accountancy but how do you secure a placement and what should you expect to gain from it?
Applying for a placement
The application process for accounting graduate schemes can be lengthy and competitive. You may be asked to conduct online tests, face-to-face interviews and assessments. Every company is different though and some may be tougher than others so it is wise to fully prepare yourself so you can face any challenges you are presented with.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have an accountancy related degree to apply for a placement because a lot of companies will provide you with all the technical training that you will need. A degree in any subject will provide you with the ideal preparation for the workplace and employers will recognise this. The self-discipline and enthusiasm to learn that you will have exhibited will be very appealing to employers as will the skills you will have picked up.
In order to stand out on your application, ensure that you mention anything that will prove your capabilities. Examples include problem solving skills, giving presentations, group work, written and verbal communication and analytical skills. All of these attributes will be used from the very beginning of your career so by showing that you have experience with this, you will be a lot more appealing to a potential employer.
Although technical skills are not usually expected at this stage, in order to apply for a scheme, most companies will require you to have some degree of work experience. Applicants who boast a variety of skills and attributes such as commercial awareness, planning and relationship building are highly regarded and are therefore much more likely to be successful. These skills can be obtained and developed through part-time work, summer jobs and even charity work.
It is wise to think about gaining work experience during the early stages of your time at university. Securing a part-time job whilst studying or doing a work placement during holidays opens you up to different learning experiences and also helps you to acquire the skills you will need in order to enjoy success with your placement.
What to expect from your placement
Accountancy graduate schemes are a fantastic stepping stone between university and full-time employment. Bearing this in mind, you should be prepared to work hard and understand that every day will be different. Chances are that your first few years will involve a lot of studying in between working on client projects but the length of study will largely depend on which part of the company you join.
You can expect to spend most of your time researching, attending industry events, seminars and doing preparatory work for clients. As well as working on site with the client, you will also gain experience in pitching for work, interviewing staff for more information, taking briefs and presenting information.
Although it might seem daunting at first, a graduate scheme offers a brilliant opportunity to begin and develop your career in accountancy. There is also plenty of help and support throughout the process which means that you will always have the guidance you need to make a smooth transition from education into the working world.