Since we began blogging in July last year, we’ve received a number of questions and comments from you. In the spirit of knowledge sharing, we’ve summarised them in the post below, and also show you the answers that our grads gave.

questionsWhile we will continue to give you an insight into what we are up to at the NAO, you might have some questions that remain unanswered. If so, please do let us know by commenting on any of our blog posts!

International audits: The United Nations

Q: I was wondering if you could explain whether it matters which team you work for in terms of the opportunities to do audits abroad, please?

I mean, I find the Influencing and Regulating cluster interesting which brings together BIS, DEFRA, FCO, DFID and our Regulation teams. But would working for this or a different team impact on my chances to participate in an international audit?

A: There is no formal requirement for you to work in a particular cluster for you to be able to work on the international audits. For example, I work mainly on the Department of Health audit (which is in the local service delivery and user experience cluster) but I have been able to help out on the international work too.

However, I would emphasise that there are limited opportunities for working on the international audits due to the level of demand and so it is important to show a high level of interest earlier on if this is something you would like to do.

Life in the Newcastle office

Q: In regards to training at the Newcastle office, approximately how many trainees are present during training sessions?

A: In respect of the college sessions for the ACA qualification, you will normally be in a small group consisting of your intake with the potential of 3 or 4 people from other firms. The size of the class therefore averages at around 10-12, though in London I believe it can be higher. For internal training sessions, the size of the group depends on the type of training being provided and the size of the room available. Most of the time the training courses held in Newcastle are around 10-15 people, but this can be more now that we have moved offices and have bigger training rooms!

Q: Is the scale of work at Newcastle much different to London? I.e. does the London office get better work projects?

A: The Newcastle office audits the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health, two of the largest Departments in Government. It is also worth bearing in mind that we are a fluid organisation, for example even though I work in Newcastle, I can work on audits that are typically carried out by the London office. Whilst the office can try to allocate you to audits that you are interested in, the needs of each audit has to also be considered. If there is something you would like to work on in particular, you can discuss this with the relevant managers and they will try to help as much as possible.

Q: I’m assuming Leeds may be too far away for me to travel to work in time for Newcastle.

A: With regards to the commute, Leeds to Newcastle is about a 90 minute train journey and would therefore require getting a 7am train to arrive for 9am. It is a personal choice with regards to where to live, although there are colleagues that live further afield such as York (myself included!). We also tend to be based away from the office on local audit for significant periods of time.

Q: You mentioned that the intake is small and I know numbers will vary between years, but how many new trainees are generally recruited to Newcastle?

A: The Newcastle graduate intakes in recent years have ranged between 6 and 8. There also tend to be school leavers joining at the same time, of which there are about 3 or 4.

Sports at the NAO

Q: I know this is one aspect of university I am going to miss so was wondering if there is a (public) list of sports societies at the NAO? If a sport is not on the list, are the NAO peeps generally supportive if someone wanted to set one up?

A: This is the current list of societies that I have pulled off our internal website:

  • Basketball
  • Bridge
  • Chess
  • Choir
  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Darts
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gym (on site)
  • Hockey
  • Netball
  • Pool
  • Running
  • Table tennis
  • Yoga

Some of these clubs are run by the CSSC (Civil Service Sports and Leisure Club) and are open to all members across the civil service, while other of these activities are run by colleagues at the NAO, for example the netball team I described (although, that said, we do play in a league with other CSSC teams).

If there is a society that you would like to set up, it is really straight forward. Last year, Hannah Croker (a fellow blogger), myself and another trainee from our intake decided to set up a French society. We put an announcement on the intranet to see who else was interested and just arranged our own meetings from then on. With around 800 people in the office, it’s highly likely that there’s going to be several with similar interests!

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