Posted on June 29, 2017 by Tufail Kalam
I have officially now been with the NAO for 9 months, however my experience has been a little different to most graduates…
Having taken a good couple months to myself to recharge and recuperate after a tough final year at uni, I was ready and raring to go at the beginning of my journey at the NAO. The first week was induction week, jam packed with a lot of fun activities and quite a lot of information to take in. I found this a great opportunity to get acquainted with the rest of the intake as pretty much everyone is in the same boat. It was really interesting to see the variety of different backgrounds, ranging from music, to history, to computer science and so on and so forth. I kind of expected there to be more people from the same background as myself, accounting, but the variety was a pleasant surprise!
For the following 2 weeks, college was the plan in order to study for 2 of the certificate level exams, Accounting and Assurance. College is exactly like uni except turning up is not optional! Our college days would start at 9am and finish around 4.30pm. The tuition centre provide plenty of material at the beginning of the course and the tutors are extremely helpful with any queries and questions. Classes are quite small, providing a better opportunity to ask questions on anything you’re unsure about. Once you get home from college, there are online video tutorials available to go over if you need to recap and plenty of questions to go through. Outside of class, fellow members of the intake are 99.9% of the time happy to help with course questions which is always nice!
Unfortunately for me, after one week of college, I got really unwell and I was off work for around 6 months. Long story short, I now have a stoma. It was a tough period for me personally as I had just started my professional career and it was a shame to be out for so long. The NAO supported me really well throughout this period, not rushing me but instead making sure I recovered 100% before even discussing my return. The “get well” card I received from my team was a small gesture but for me it was a really nice touch which came at the right time! When I finally had got cleared to work, plans and adjustments were made for me based on the recommendations of my occupational health reports. I was on a phased return to help me ease into the swing of things; so I first started on two days a week, then 3 days and so on till I became full time. College dates have been adjusted for me but I am lucky in that sense as I have 7 exemptions from uni!
In my first 2/3 months back so far, everyone has been extremely helpful and understanding! We are currently in the midst of busy season so a great time to return with lots of interesting work to be done. I am presently working on Network Rail, one of the larger audits in the department. It has been such a big learning curve so far, there are so many things to take in and learn! I am constantly asking questions to improve my understanding and, to the credit of my team, their patience has been incredible. My colleagues have always been on deck to provide assistance when needed. I’ve really enjoyed the early exposure to client meetings and client sites. Next month I will be in Edinburgh for a week on the General Lighthouse Fund audit so I’m looking forward to that!
Although my first 9 months haven’t gone quite as I envisaged, I have enjoyed my time so far at the NAO. I look forward to cracking on and completing a few exams before the year end!
Posted on June 14, 2017 by Jamie Boote
When people ask what the best thing about the NAO is, my usual response is to say that it’s the people. For me in particular, it’s the 70+ new trainees that start with you when you start the scheme in September.
I graduated in July 2016 and like most of my university friends started a new life in London. I have noticed for some of my friends it has been difficult starting a new job when there are either no or few people your age working there. This is not a problem at the NAO.
The majority of trainees are twenty-somethings and the 2016 intake is a keen bunch. When we’re not scattered across the country at our clients, we usually spend Friday evening in the pub, drinking a few lemonades or cocktails, chilling out and playing a few games of darts (potentially the worst group of darts players you’ll ever see).
At lunchtime in the office, there’s always someone to sit with in the office canteen. There’s a big group that will be there everyday. At the same time, there are those that may eat with their smaller teams, or in peaceful tranquillity. Everyone is catered for.
College is a time to make friends. In your first three months, you’ll spend six weeks going to college with your intake. We were split into two groups of 30 and I won’t lie, it was hard work and there were days I was completely clueless. We were in it together though. You’ll bond over debits and credits and other accounting jargon thrown at you. No matter how badly the morning goes, you can go out for an unwinding lunch together. I’ve made some great friends at college.
Of course, being part of a big social group is not for everyone. Smaller groups form and some trainees are happy to turn up for the job, or college, and have a life completely outside of NAO colleagues. The scheme is a great opportunity to meet new people, no matter how introverted or extroverted you are. In your audit teams, there will be people of varying ages. You’re likely to find friends no matter where you are in your life.
Outside the working week, a number of us have arranged fun activities. A big group of us went to the CASSL ball together and almost all of us went to the office Christmas party, where we filled the dancefloor and packed out a karaoke booth. I arranged white water rafting for my birthday and put a team together for a mixed netball tournament and a colour run. Earlier in the year, I played in the tag rugby team. In the netball and rugby, we didn’t win much – but it was so much fun regardless!
It’s been great to meet so many new people and we’re always looking for new, exciting events and activities to do. I’m currently trying to do every Olympic sport before Tokyo 2020 so if you do join the NAO – get in touch if there’s something you’ve always wanted to try.
I hope this gives a flavour of how you can make the most of your time at the NAO and in London. Use the comment boxes to ask any questions.