Behind the scenes of a first year as a trainee accountant

My name is Kamila Adam and I am a first year graduate trainee accountant with Dafferns. I went to school in Coventry and did work experience with Dafferns, before graduating with a first-class BSc degree Accounting and Finance from the University of Northampton. Having stayed in touch with me through my university career, Dafferns offered me a position as a graduate trainee in the summer of 2017. I am now working full time at Dafferns with a fully funded and supported study package and taking my ACCA professional exams.

Accountancy is a vast progressing and changing profession

I made my decision to become an accountant based on the above, but more importantly, I knew that it would provide me with an immeasurable sense of pride, confidence and admiration. Not many are told or have an outline of what it’s like to work for an accountancy firm, therefore, I have decided to share my point of view including some tips based on my “almost a year” experience as a graduate trainiee at Dafferns.

So where do I start… from the bottom?

Quite literally. Whether your title is a trainee accountant, accounts assistant, audit junior and so on, you have been accepted to a world which has so much potential and many rewards to offer, however, just like in any occupation, we all should start near the end of the hierarchy tier and ascend as far as we can. It’s a job title, not a definition of who you are and what you have achieved, but merely a starting point towards your bright career.

The first three years of your training will be the most crucial. This is the time to learn the principles of accounting, to learn how the firm you are working for operates.

Learn to ‘ask and not to be afraid to ask’ questions and to me the most significant, is to learn from your mistakes

Just like any job, if not every job, not everything is hunky dory. It does get stressful and at times you will feel the pressure of deadlines, but you will always have people there to help you through it. Overall, it’s going to be a tough yet a fulfilling experience and I truly believe it’s important to hold on the idea of deferred gratification as it will take you very far.

First things first

it can be overwhelming, but unfortunately, schools and universities do not prepare you to be an accountant. It’s not something where you can just sit down, read a book about it and suddenly know! It’s all about the experience and how you handle the tasks in a practical way. Therefore, tip number 1: have an open mind. It may come across very cliché but by being open to new challenges and learning from the get go, this will help you adjust to the overwhelming environment. Yes, the principles that you have learnt at university or college still do in fact matter very much, but what the book says does not always tie back with the reality, therefore it’s a good thing not to assume you know everything. Every day is different with a variety of tasks and clients so it should be natural to be open to the fact that they are not all the same.

Second best

Tip number 2: make notes. It is a LOT to remember and making notes will help you grasp the terms, principles, and how tasks should be completed a lot easier. Everyone in the firm will be happy to help you and by taking notes you can always refer to the answers they have given you.

At Dafferns, I am exposed to new technical phrases on a daily basis and I would certainly be lost without my notes!

Third time’s the charm

Learn from your mistakes. Human error is unavoidable but more importantly it’s how we deal with the mistakes we have encountered so they can be prevented in the future. Owning up is a first step, rectifying it (if you can) is a second and learning from it is a third – personally, it is like a golden rule. Tip number 3: ‘don’t give up easily’, ‘keep going’ and ‘try again’ are the phrases you should bear in mind whilst at work or on your study days.

Four-letter word

ACCA. This is the career path I decided to take whilst still at university. Whether you plan to choose ACA or ACCA, it’s key to have clarity in your mind which option is the best for you. Apart from working full time, you will continue with your qualification by studying in the best colleges such as Kaplan and BBP. Tip number 4: research, understand the differences and find out what your employer offers.

Fifth is a myth

“Accountants are boring.” Right, so that’s in a nutshell but let’s crack it open a little. As a trainee accountant you are still going to have a lot of fun at work as well as outside of work. You will be given the chance to meet some very interesting people, make life-long friendships, go to pub quizzes, enjoy cycling, volunteer, fundraise for a local charity, hop on a train for a weekend get-away…
Tip number 5: Keep in the loop of any social events your firm is organising or taking part in, you never know it may be something you would like to participate in. Socialising is a large aspect of our everyday life and it’s vital to keep active…how very NOT boring! At Dafferns, I am lucky enough to fulfil my requirements within my contracted hours and very occasionally stay behind, therefore there is plenty of time to enjoy my evenings with friends and family.

I have been employed by Dafferns for 9 months now. Starting in June, just a month before my graduation from the University of Northampton earning a first-class degree in BSc Accounting and Finance. I have known about the firm four years prior to my employment as I completed work experience programmes with Dafferns during my A levels and while I was at university.

Now working full time as a Corporate Reporting Assistant at Dafferns as well as studying on block realease at Kaplan in Birmingham, I have been involved in many areas of the business such as preparing micro-entity and dormant accounts, management accounting, assisting on audits and the preparation of medium-sized company accounts.

Every day is different with new challenges and variety of clients. I am very grateful to be part of a friendly team with a great work ethic and I am looking forward to continuing my professional career with Dafferns.

So now that you’ve got to hear it all from me, was it all you were hoping for and more?

If you would like to discuss your career options contact our office, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have and make sure you follow the link to learn about “Hints and Tips when applying for work experience” written by our Senior Corporate Manager; Deborah Austin.

Best of luck for the future – Kamila