When people ask what the best thing about the NAO is, my usual response is to say that it’s the people. For me in particular, it’s the 70+ new trainees that start with you when you start the scheme in September.
I graduated in July 2016 and like most of my university friends started a new life in London. I have noticed for some of my friends it has been difficult starting a new job when there are either no or few people your age working there. This is not a problem at the NAO.
The majority of trainees are twenty-somethings and the 2016 intake is a keen bunch. When we’re not scattered across the country at our clients, we usually spend Friday evening in the pub, drinking a few lemonades or cocktails, chilling out and playing a few games of darts (potentially the worst group of darts players you’ll ever see).
At lunchtime in the office, there’s always someone to sit with in the office canteen. There’s a big group that will be there everyday. At the same time, there are those that may eat with their smaller teams, or in peaceful tranquillity. Everyone is catered for.
College is a time to make friends. In your first three months, you’ll spend six weeks going to college with your intake. We were split into two groups of 30 and I won’t lie, it was hard work and there were days I was completely clueless. We were in it together though. You’ll bond over debits and credits and other accounting jargon thrown at you. No matter how badly the morning goes, you can go out for an unwinding lunch together. I’ve made some great friends at college.
Of course, being part of a big social group is not for everyone. Smaller groups form and some trainees are happy to turn up for the job, or college, and have a life completely outside of NAO colleagues. The scheme is a great opportunity to meet new people, no matter how introverted or extroverted you are. In your audit teams, there will be people of varying ages. You’re likely to find friends no matter where you are in your life.
Outside the working week, a number of us have arranged fun activities. A big group of us went to the CASSL ball together and almost all of us went to the office Christmas party, where we filled the dancefloor and packed out a karaoke booth. I arranged white water rafting for my birthday and put a team together for a mixed netball tournament and a colour run. Earlier in the year, I played in the tag rugby team. In the netball and rugby, we didn’t win much – but it was so much fun regardless!
It’s been great to meet so many new people and we’re always looking for new, exciting events and activities to do. I’m currently trying to do every Olympic sport before Tokyo 2020 so if you do join the NAO – get in touch if there’s something you’ve always wanted to try.
I hope this gives a flavour of how you can make the most of your time at the NAO and in London. Use the comment boxes to ask any questions.