What made you decide to apply for the NAO Graduate Scheme?
On leaving university with a biology degree, accountancy did not seem the obvious choice of career, but a temporary post in a finance department soon changed my mind. Having spoken to friends and family, the ACA qualification seemed a sensible choice, and research on training providers highlighted the NAO as a good place to qualify. The work-life balance is a lot more equal compared to other firms, and they support you well through the training contract; I’m definitely glad I made the decision to apply three years ago.
What type of work can trainees expect to get involved in?
I’ve mainly worked on financial audit since starting at the NAO, with the majority of my work in the transport area. I’ve worked on various clients within the area, taking me to Edinburgh to audit lighthouses, and Birmingham to audit the transport police to name just a couple. Within the area I have also been involved with various other pieces of work including the whole of government accounts, transport select committee briefings, and the annual client insight exercise. Every week at the NAO is different as a trainee – which adds to the enjoyment of the role. The small VFM roles I’ve had have also been varied, from document review to data analysis. Although I personally prefer financial audit, these allocations have been interesting, and it’s good to see what the other side of the office do.
What’s been your main highlight to date?
I’ve been lucky enough to get on some international assignments that have taken me to New York and Vienna, both of which have been great experiences. Closer to home, my most unusual audit is probably the lighthouses in Edinburgh. Besides work, I’ve made a number of great friends, both within my intake and throughout the office – the social aspect of the job is also good fun.
How do you find studying for the ACA?
Although the ACA qualification is hard work, the NAO provide plenty of study leave/college time in order to get you through it. Don’t get me wrong, you will have to forfeit an evening/weekend or two, but the sense of achievement on completing the final exam is well worth it. You will use what you learn in college immediately on the job which helps both learning the information for the exams, and understanding what is required whilst out on audit.