Around the time of my GCSEs, everyone had to start thinking about career options. I’ve always been interested in maths and numbers, and it was at this time that my uncle, who was an audit manager, introduced me to the idea of a career in accountancy. He explained the type of work involved, the breadth of career opportunities available and the skills needed.
What does your current trainee role include?
As a corporate tax assistant I may be inputting data into our software, researching complex tax legislation to deal with clients’ varying situations, liaising with HMRC regarding disputes or advising clients on issues that they don’t have the technical knowledge to deal with. For the most part it is not a 9 to 5 job – it can be a challenge working all day and then being motivated to do 12-15 hours revision throughout the week.
How did you hear about Baker Tilly’s vacancy?
I became even more interested in accountancy as I completed modules in financial accounting at university. After becoming ICAEW Campus Ambassador* for the University of Sheffield, I knew that the ACA was the route I wanted to take to become a chartered accountant.
I heard about the Baker Tilly vacancy at the University of Sheffield through a careers fair that I was helping ICAEW with. I took the time to thoroughly research the firms offering the ACA qualification using the wealth of material offered by ICAEW. Baker Tilly really stood out for me; I applied a few months after graduating and was offered the job about four weeks later!
What challenges have you come across and how did you overcome these?
The main challenge, which I’m sure is shared by all ACA students, is fitting study time with working full-time. It is difficult at times and quite draining, however a good revision plan and having study leave has helped me overcome this. The system that works best for me is to revise four nights a week for a couple of hours, then have most weekends off, unless there’s an exam around the corner!
Another challenge I have faced from day one of my training contract is maintaining professionalism in all communications. I have built up my confidence on the phone and strive to ensure all written communication is accurate and professional.
What top three skills are useful in your role?
- Numeracy: a lot of tasks involve analysis of data and understanding where figures have come from.
- Communication: in my role I am constantly communicating, be it with colleagues, HMRC or clients.
- Thinking outside the box: especially as you become senior in tax, clients’ complex situations will necessitate deep and thoughtful solutions that aren’t always obvious.
Any advice to current graduates for the application process?
I recommend researching exactly what is involved in the ACA qualification and making sure you are able to manage the job and study. With the application process, my biggest piece of advice is to be yourself. The interviewer wants to see what you are really like, not just that you’ve managed to learn example answers to all of their questions.
It is important to spend time before even the application stage to fully research the firm and role: don’t copy and paste the same application form to 20 firms!
What would you like to achieve in the future?
Over the coming few years, I will have become ACA-qualified and will hopefully just be finishing off my CTA qualification. After that, I plan to stay at Baker Tilly, steadily gaining more responsibility and moving from compliance into advisory work.
* ICAEW Campus Ambassadors are recruited at 50 universities each academic term. They are paid to carry out on campus promotional activity.