• Role: Audit Trainee
  • Location: Nottingham
  • University: Loughborough
  • Degree: Economics

Sarah Timperley

It was not until I was at university and thinking seriously about my career options that I considered accountancy. I had the stereotypical view that it was tapping away on a calculator and looking at spreadsheets all day. It wasn’t until I spoke to a family friend, who gave me a greater insight into the profession, that I realised accountancy matched my interests and skill-set of problem solving, teamwork and interacting with people. It sounded like the right career for me!

How did you find your training agreement and what does your role involve?

PKF Cooper Parry was recommended by a friend as a great firm to work for; one that valued who you were as a person and what your ambitions and passions were, and not just what grades you’d achieved.

My role is within the audit team and involves leading/working closely with the team, project managing jobs as well as liaising with the client. I love the interaction you get with different people and working across a variety of sectors, including retail and manufacturing. Each audit gives you a fantastic insight into business that I never fully appreciated before starting this job.

What are your top three tips for applying for a graduate position?

  • Research. This is key to show that you’ve looked at the position you’re applying for. Google the company to see if they’ve won any awards, and find out more about what they do and what you will be doing. This gives you talking points in your interview and shows them that you’ve taken the time to research who you’d be working for.
  • Have a story behind the statement. Be mindful not to rely wholly on the buzzwords, and make sure that you’ve got valid examples from different parts of your life (both professional and personal) to back up what you’re claiming!
  • Be yourself and be memorable. It may sound cliché, but you’ll be working with these people daily, and it’s important to get your personality across. Make your interview memorable in whatever way best reflects you.

Which skills are most useful in your role?

  • Project management. My organisational skills have improved tenfold. After learning the basics, I am now responsible for leading/coaching the team, communicating with the client and completing my own work too, so great project management is key.
  • Teamwork and client relations. You work with various people for different clients each week, and it’s important to get the best out of the team, as it benefits the client, your firm and you – so it’s win-win all round!

Where did you develop the skills that would later become useful in your job?

In between university and joining PKF Cooper Parry, I went travelling for five months to Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and was often by myself. This taught me how to build relationships with people quickly. If you’re sat on the bus next to a random person for the next 12 hours, why sit in silence? This has helped when dealing with clients and building rapports with them on both a professional and a personal level.

How do you balance work and study for the ACA qualification?

To stay sane, I ensure I factor in downtime to go kayaking or see friends to give my brain a break. PKF Cooper Parry also provides study leave, which helps greatly. It’s a different lifestyle to university, but I’m more engaged now and always manage to fit in some social time.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

To get those three letters, ACA, after my name!

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