What made you decide to apply for the NAO Graduate Scheme?
I actually spent several years working for a different organisation before I applied for the NAO. I enjoyed my previous job but I was looking for something new and I wanted to work in London. I felt I had an aptitude for numerical and analytical work and I wanted something that played to those strengths. I was also attracted to the idea of working in the public sector, since this is where my previous experience had been, and being able to carry across some of that experience would, I thought, smooth the transition to a new career. This all led me to the NAO, and as I investigated it I found the work sounded interesting and the prospect of training for a well-regarded qualification which enhances employability a big selling point.
What type of work can trainees expect to get involved in?
During my first year in the office I did quite a lot of VFM work, and was fortunate enough to be heavily involved through the life cycle of two studies. I performed a range of research and analytical work for these, and pretty quickly felt like I was making a substantial contribution to significant outputs.
Subsequently I’ve focused much more on financial audit, working mainly in the Defence area. Day-to-day life varies a lot over the year. At certain key times most of my time is spent out of the office at various Ministry of Defence sites; the work at these times involves some number-crunching, some checking through documents, and a lot of discussion with the audit client to understand their business and their finances. The pace at these times can be pretty intensive. At other times of the year I’m more likely to be in the office producing more high-level analysis of the organisations I audit.
How do you find studying for the ACA?
Gaining your ACA qualification is a major part of life as a trainee at the NAO. It requires passing fifteen exams, as well as building up enough experience on-the-job.
There’s no denying that combining work with studying for the ACA is challenging. The exams are hard, and there’s no substitute for putting in the hours studying for them. But it’s very satisfying to feel your knowledge increasing rapidly and being able to put that knowledge straight to work
What’s been your main highlight to date?
The first time your name appears on a published report is a bit of a highlight for anyone here!