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Over the next few weeks, my intake are due to sign off our ICAEW training files and officially complete the ACA. We’re going to be issued Audit Principal contracts and many of us are moving teams. In light of this, HR recently sent us an email asking for summaries of our time as trainees for […]

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Onwards and upwards (or, my only regret is Colin Firth)

Posted on September 9, 2016 by

The end signOver the next few weeks, my intake are due to sign off our ICAEW training files and officially complete the ACA. We’re going to be issued Audit Principal contracts and many of us are moving teams.

In light of this, HR recently sent us an email asking for summaries of our time as trainees for use at the graduation ceremony event they’re putting on for us. The fictional examples they gave all seemed a little overblown and unlikely at first but, as I tried to write my own and looked at those others in my intake had composed, I realised it’s been a very eventful three years and it does sound impressive in retrospect. My training contract at the NAO has provided me with a lot of opportunities and I know that both my skills and my confidence have grown over the time I’ve been here.

As an example of my growth over the duration of my contract: as a first year trainee, I received desk training on-site at an audit client about how to review an invoice for an expenditure sample test and I remember asking a lot of uncertain questions about capital works and VAT treatment. This year, I went back to that very same client as the audit lead and I was the one who had all the answers. I was also able to confirm that I definitely didn’t consider any of my team’s questions to be stupid – on the grounds that I’d once had to ask them myself.

Writing a summary of my time at the NAO, I struggled to strike the right tone – I didn’t want to boast too much but a factual approach was too tedious to be endured.

I got so bored of listing my own achievements that I tried to add a little humour to it. “Alice has had a large range of opportunities while working at the NAO. For instance, she once had the opportunity to mob Colin Firth in the lobby of The Wallace Collection while there on an audit visit. Unfortunately, she decided it would be unprofessional to do so. She has regretted it ever since.” It also has the virtue of being true – though I don’t know to this day why Colin Firth was visiting The Wallace Collection on an afternoon in February. Maybe he just likes French eighteenth century art?

In the end, I went for something a little more conventional and bland but I’m still surprised and impressed by how varied the work I’ve done is – especially as my summary doesn’t nearly cover everything. I’ll share it here, in case you’re curious. Everyone’s experiences are different but I don’t think mine is particularly far from the norm:

“Alice Sturgess has spent her training contract based in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport financial audit team, specialising in charities audits within the museums and galleries sector. She led the audit of The Wallace Collection in 2015-16 and has been a member of the British Film Institute audit team every year since joining the office in 2013. She has worked on numerous other financial audits across the NAO, including an international audit based in The Hague; and has been a named contributor to VfM studies in the Department for Education and Regulation, Consumers and Competition areas. Alice is looking forward to taking on a VfM portfolio from September 2016.”

If I hadn’t submitted it already, I might add: “She has enjoyed contributing to the NAO’s graduate blog, attempting to offer insight and amusement to prospective future entrants to the graduate scheme.” That has the virtue of being true, too.

… and we enjoyed having Alice on our blogging team! Thank you for some truly great blog posts, and we look forward to welcoming you back anytime as a guest blogger! 


Would you like to join us as a trainee next year?

Our 2017 graduate training scheme is now open for applications. Head over to our website to learn more.


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