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It’s hard to believe that only a year has passed since I turned up to the office for my first day at the NAO. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and have learned a lot. In fact, here are some of the highlights of the lessons I have learned during my time as a first-year […]

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10 lessons I’ve learned from my first year at the NAO

Posted on September 25, 2015 by

1st birthdayIt’s hard to believe that only a year has passed since I turned up to the office for my first day at the NAO. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and have learned a lot. In fact, here are some of the highlights of the lessons I have learned during my time as a first-year trainee.

  1. It is important to ask questions
    Your first year is all about learning new things and experiencing different parts of the public sector. Especially in your first year, where you are looking to find your grounding in the NAO’s work, it is so important to ask questions whenever you are unsure about your work.
  2. Making friends will go a long way
    From day one, everyone has been so welcoming and always ready to lend a hand with my work. I learned early on that work friendships can often pay dividends in the future when it turns out that they happen to be an expert in the very subject that you are working on!
  3. The NAO puts on a cracking Christmas party
    With December came my personal highlight of the year, the Christmas party. This was the night where the bottom two floors of the office were transformed into partay central and we all let our hair down for a few drinks and a dance.
  4. There is more to the government than you think
    It took me until my first day out on audit in Whitehall to truly grasp the enormity of the public sector. Literally thousands of people deal with billions of pounds of public money every day. By working at the NAO, we are in such a great position to get an unrivalled insight into government.
  5. Madonna’s “Holiday” reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1983
    This is just one of the incredibly useful nuggets that I learned from the NAO’s annual pop quiz. Along with the Christmas party and the film quiz, the pop quiz is a flagship event in the NAO calendar. Oh, another lesson I have learned is that people at the NAO will NEVER say no to dressing up.
  6. The NAO has a wide reaching impact
    I (and my mum) will never forget when a piece of work that I contributed to found its way to the front page of the Independent. Our value for money reports really are held in high regard by all sorts of stakeholders. Not only that, the bodies that we audit really do value our financial audit work, and it is truly rewarding to see a client improve the way they manage their finances because of your findings.
  7. Studying hard pays off
    A lot of my first year was spent in college, hitting the books. While at times this has been tense and a little stressful, nothing can match the feeling of getting the results you were driving towards and celebrating with your fellow trainees.
  8. The things that Microsoft Excel can do are incredible
    Honestly! Prepare for vlookups and pivot tables to be your new best friends, as you never have to manually search through a massive list again. To be honest, I look back at my pre-NAO self in pity at my inability to use a random number generator.
  9. There’s a sweepstake for everything
    Since joining, I have been a member of Apprentice and Great British Bake Off sweepstakes, and haven’t won either. I’ve just signed up to a rugby world cup one though, so hopefully I’ll have more luck with that. These are great ways of promoting team spirit with your colleagues, but they can get quite competitive!
  10. You’ve got a friend in…” your buddy
    My first port of call over the last year, for all of my questions, has been my buddy Jack. It’s been really great having a contact who is a couple of years down the trainee chain from me, who would help me with everything from completing my timesheet to printing something off.

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