I have officially now been with the NAO for 9 months, however my experience has been a little different to most graduates…
Having taken a good couple months to myself to recharge and recuperate after a tough final year at uni, I was ready and raring to go at the beginning of my journey at the NAO. The first week was induction week, jam packed with a lot of fun activities and quite a lot of information to take in. I found this a great opportunity to get acquainted with the rest of the intake as pretty much everyone is in the same boat. It was really interesting to see the variety of different backgrounds, ranging from music, to history, to computer science and so on and so forth. I kind of expected there to be more people from the same background as myself, accounting, but the variety was a pleasant surprise!
For the following 2 weeks, college was the plan in order to study for 2 of the certificate level exams, Accounting and Assurance. College is exactly like uni except turning up is not optional! Our college days would start at 9am and finish around 4.30pm. The tuition centre provide plenty of material at the beginning of the course and the tutors are extremely helpful with any queries and questions. Classes are quite small, providing a better opportunity to ask questions on anything you’re unsure about. Once you get home from college, there are online video tutorials available to go over if you need to recap and plenty of questions to go through. Outside of class, fellow members of the intake are 99.9% of the time happy to help with course questions which is always nice!
Unfortunately for me, after one week of college, I got really unwell and I was off work for around 6 months. Long story short, I now have a stoma. It was a tough period for me personally as I had just started my professional career and it was a shame to be out for so long. The NAO supported me really well throughout this period, not rushing me but instead making sure I recovered 100% before even discussing my return. The “get well” card I received from my team was a small gesture but for me it was a really nice touch which came at the right time! When I finally had got cleared to work, plans and adjustments were made for me based on the recommendations of my occupational health reports. I was on a phased return to help me ease into the swing of things; so I first started on two days a week, then 3 days and so on till I became full time. College dates have been adjusted for me but I am lucky in that sense as I have 7 exemptions from uni!
In my first 2/3 months back so far, everyone has been extremely helpful and understanding! We are currently in the midst of busy season so a great time to return with lots of interesting work to be done. I am presently working on Network Rail, one of the larger audits in the department. It has been such a big learning curve so far, there are so many things to take in and learn! I am constantly asking questions to improve my understanding and, to the credit of my team, their patience has been incredible. My colleagues have always been on deck to provide assistance when needed. I’ve really enjoyed the early exposure to client meetings and client sites. Next month I will be in Edinburgh for a week on the General Lighthouse Fund audit so I’m looking forward to that!
Although my first 9 months haven’t gone quite as I envisaged, I have enjoyed my time so far at the NAO. I look forward to cracking on and completing a few exams before the year end!