Finishing your training contract - what's next?
When your training contract draws to a close, the transition away from 'student' can be daunting and exciting in equal measure. What can you expect from your professional life as a fully-qualified CA?
"If you ask the students, it is a relief when they have passed the exams and when they finally qualify they do feel proud of themselves. It should be a confidence boost – it holds a prestige which makes you stand out more," said Catherine Devaney CA.
Standing out often means having to step up your game. One of the more immediate changes you may notice post-qualification is an increase in responsibility and shifted priorities within your organisation.
"Expectations increase and you become one of the 'go to' people for making decisions. You become the person in charge and therefore more of the professional skills you have learned through the CA training start to increase in importance," commented Catherine. "You have more accountability."
A rounded experience
Alasdair Douglas CA agreed: "The workload does increase as you are normally given more responsibility to reflect your qualified status. However, you generally have a more rounded set of knowledge and experience at this point which helps you adapt to the new challenges.
"As an added bonus, there may be a jump in salary when you achieve CA status so you will feel like you are being rewarded more for the extra work you need to do."
Technical knowledge becomes essential for everyday
"I thought after qualifying that was it and I’d know what I was doing - but you never stop learning. The workload becomes more about how you manage teams and work with others and the coaching definitely increases," added Kit Kerr CA, speaking from experience. "I just found it meant you were expected to know what you were doing more – so that’s when technical knowledge came in super useful!"
Should you stay or go?
While many of you will choose to remain with your current employer, some may wish to go further afield and pursue opportunities elsewhere. The CA qualification opens doors to countless career paths and exciting positions around the world. However, as Alasdair explained, moving on isn't a decision to make lightly.
The role of a qualified CA in many service lines is very different from that of a student and you will see that your objectives and role in the business really begin to change.
"The tip I used to give to newly qualified CAs was not to necessarily jump shbip on qualifying as a number of them might feel, at the end of the three years, that they need a change of scenery," he said.
"The role of a qualified CA in many service lines is very different from that of a student and you will see that your objectives and role in the business really begin to change in the first year after qualifying. You're not always repeating the same old work from the first three years.
"It's worthwhile giving your new role a chance and getting the benefits of more experience and knowledge before making any rash decisions. You can also look for secondments in other departments if there is another area of the business that you think you may be interested in. This gives you a chance to try before you buy!"
Don't take on too much
Most of all, it's important to continue to look after yourself as you move into the next stage of your professional life. You are finally at a stage where you can take a step back from constant studying - but don't make the mistake of filling that free time with more work.
Alasdair said: "Speaking from experience, I let myself take on too much extra responsibility and this meant a lot of extra overtime on a consistent basis. It's important to make sure that people's expectations fit in with what is actually possible. There will always be a need for some extra time here or there but good planning and diary management will help to keep you sane!"