A very warm welcome to our new trainees who join us today! To help you get off to a good start, we’ve dug out a blog post from our previous trainee Robert on what to expect and how to make the most of your time at the NAO. Good luck – we are looking forward to working with you.

Start lineHaving recently qualified and gaining promotion, I am no longer a graduate trainee and thus my time on the blog must come to an end (don’t worry, others will replace me). Before I head off, it was suggested that I note down a few thoughts on how to make life as a trainee a bit better.

Below, in no particular order and in a handy bullet point format (for ease of reading and maximum enjoyment!) are my thoughts. I’ve had quite a few, though, so will continue my list of wisdom tomorrow!

  • Try to look at the announcements on the intranet every day; you never know when that perfect job opportunity might come up.
  • Use the NAO wiki, it actually has some good stuff on it!
  • Start reading up on the core concepts of accountancy before you start; mostly debits and credits. If you are sent some pre-course material, make sure you complete it.
  • Get to know your colleagues – join in with the social side, be it football, darts, choir, table tennis or just going to the pub on a Friday. Also do not be afraid of a little idle chat among your teams as it helps build friendships.
  • Join in with corporate citizenship groups such as the social club, the alumni group and trainee events.
  • Speak to your line manager to discuss a set of goals. I ended up on an action plan and while that was personally disappointing it has made me a much better auditor and helped pull me up to speed. Having the goals in place and additional coaching of key terms, processes and thought patterns helped immensely. Get these goals written down and consider your progress against them.
  • If there is something you want to do, don’t be afraid of going to the lead, manager or director to ask if/how you can get involved. It sounds clichéd but they really do like initiative and enthusiasm. Just don’t be too aggressive.
  • Seek regular feedback from your line managers/audit leads. Identifying your strengths early allows you to understand why they are strengths and further embed them. Identifying your weaknesses early allows action to be taken before bad habits get locked in!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but consider if you actually already know the answer and are just afraid of committing to a decision. When you do have a question, make it known that you have thought about it rather than just simply asking but providing your insight, thoughts and opinions along with why you think the way you do.
  • Similarly, don’t be afraid to make a decision. It is better to make mistakes when you are junior than when you are senior, and you will develop your thought process over time. This will allow you to better interpret information and give you experience to draw upon.

To be continued tomorrow…

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