• Name: Emma Pithouse
  • Job Title: Accounts Senior
  • Location: UK
  • University: Coventry
  • Degree: BSc Mathematics
  • Areas of Specialism: Audit and Assurance

Why did you choose a job in accounting?

After studying mathematics at university, I decided to pursue a career in accounting as I knew it would be a good opportunity and a valuable qualification to gain. I chose to apply for roles within small to medium sized firms where I could study towards my ACA qualification, as I knew I would be able to build better working relationships with my managers and directors, and that if I had questions about my studies, I would have someone to direct them to.

The graduate scheme involves studying towards 3 tiers of exams, as well as documenting the training side of this through completing a training file, showing the application of relevant knowledge and ethical principles. Soft skills are also developed whilst studying towards ACA, which are important for any career. Carrying out this work allows for reflection on your progress, which may have otherwise been overlooked.

What skills are useful in this sector?

I wouldn’t say that having any previous accounting knowledge is a pre-requisite as I didn’t have any when I started. However, I would recommend having enthusiasm and a willingness to learn as you will be faced with a number of challenges whilst studying, however with determination you will be successful.

I learnt a lot in my first few weeks at Prime, and within the first week of joining I was enrolled onto an online bookkeeping webinar which was particularly useful, as it allowed me to learn the basic accounting principles and how accounts are formed.

How has your employer supported your training?

The scheme has allowed me to link ACA college tuition to my day-job throughout, as I have had continuous exposure to accounts preparation and audits from the day I joined Prime. We are given days off work to attend our college courses, so I was able to concentrate on those days and dedicate my full attention to learning new information. Attending college with another trainee from Prime, and progressing through the whole process with him and other colleagues, meant that I had an extra support network, which definitely made us feel like ‘we’re all in this together’ – and we could ask each other questions when studying at home too.

This scheme has been a good transition from university to starting my career, as I could still feel as though I was a student, and maintain many of the study habits I had developed at university. Having work alongside study did present its challenges, however I set myself a study rule, ensuring that I would always have an 8pm cut-off from study so that I could relax. I would definitely say that finding a schedule that works for you is key, as everyone is different. Also I found that telling family members of my study rule helped, as they were soon to remind me when I was still studying past 8pm!

The approachable, caring attitude of staff in the audit and accounts team across all levels has meant that I have never felt alone. I have never been afraid to ask questions when stuck on a job, and knew that I could raise any concerns or worries to managers or the director.

Working towards the ACA accreditation has been the most difficult thing I have done, but definitely the most rewarding, and worth every moment of uncertainty and doubt, not only to gain knowledge and experience, but also soft skills that can be carried into other walks of life, like perseverance and self-belief.

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