Learning from others.

May 18, 2018

Meeting student members who are in the final stages of their contract can be enlightening as it gives us both an opportunity to sense check what’s happening in work versus what’s needed post-contract.

A snapshot of some of the things I hear and see that perhaps might be an obstacle to a successful experience outside of contract includes:

  • Underestimating the experience in contract whether that’s in practice, audit, industry etc.
    • Your Chartered Accountants diary is a valuable tool to capturing your successes – so keep it up to date to avoid forgetting unique experiences and assignments.


  • Overestimating the experience in contract – yes that contradicts the above point but what is also important is to take the experience for what it is.
    • You might have had the opportunity to get senior exposure on exciting projects but be mindful that some basic experience might have been overlooked. Walk before you can run.


  • Forgetting the bigger picture – often clients comment that members going for interview say they are commercially savvy but in fact rely on a very limited flow of information.
    • If you really want to be taken seriously in business, read all you can and attend events outside of your immediate circle (on your own if you need to) but develop a passion for all things business and commerce and don’t rely purely on what’s happening in work.


  • Start to develop a level of self-awareness for what you like and what you are good at.
    • Instead of automatically reverting to the ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ response, be mindful of the experiences you’ve had and ask yourself ‘have I enjoyed that role, that sector, that company, that culture, that size team etc.’ and find your own answers.


  • Look before you leap!
    • Very often I meet with newly qualified members who on one hand tell me they have absolutely no idea what they want to do but in the same breath tell me they’ve interviewed but haven’t been successful? I think that says something – more time researching, engaging, questioning = less time interviewing.


  • High expectations in salary.
    • A worrying trend is high salary expectations for first roles out of contract, be careful not to price yourself or the profession out of exciting career enhancing roles for the sake of a small difference in pay as you start out on your career.


  • Speed (appears to be) of the essence.
    • You wouldn’t be expected to have your pension plan in place as you leave your contract and equally neither is reaching financial controller level within two to three years. It could be considered admirable but also perhaps worrying.  By having such a focused goal in such a short period of time you could potentially miss out on on vital skills, exposure, opportunities, secondments and ad-hoc projects as well as invaluable life experience. Often the longer route is beneficial to building a complete set of career skills.

As always the Career Development and Recruitment Service is on-hand to help you at this crucial time of your career and life by providing impartial, supportive, confidential advice and guidance.  Contact us at careers@charteredaccountants.ie to see how we can be your career partner throughout your career.