UNW's graduate programme is the perfect platform to launch a career in professional services, aiding personal development and enabling the right people to gain experiences that will stay with them throughout their working lives.
Over the course of three years, graduates will receive structured training and a thorough overview of what it takes to become a qualified and trusted business advisor. We recently caught up with three of our audit trainees about their transition from university to being fully-fledged chartered accountants and business advisors. Emma Woodward, Ben Hair and Peter Sym are at various levels of the training programme. Could you give us a little bit of information about your background before you joined UNW? EW: I come from a science background, having completed a PhD in Dermatology, so not quite the classic route into professional services! I was very interested in accountancy, and managed to get a week’s work experience at UNW.
I absolutely loved it, and secured a full-time position after being interviewed! BH: I was working full-time in a pub when I decided to apply for the Accounting and Finance course at Newcastle University. I loved it there, and found out about UNW during a lecture. After attending their annual graduate evening, I decided it was the place I wanted to work when I left university. PS: It was a little different from me, as I had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to do when I left university! After working in France as a ski instructor for a year, I came back and did work experience in law, chartered surveying and accountancy, before realising accountancy was the career for me!
What level are you at in your training contract, and what have your main day-to-day responsibilities been so far? EW: I am a first-year trainee (ACA Level 1), but the great thing is that when I’m not at college, I’ll be onsite doing audits, which usually last one to two weeks. I started off mainly testing cash, fixed assets and payroll, and have more recently moved on to testing creditors. It’s great to get such valuable experience at such an early stage of my career. BH: As a second-year trainee, an audit team usually consists of myself, a first-year and an in-charge.
My normal day often varies from planning an audit from the UNW office or conducting on-site testing at a client’s premises right through to the completion of an audit back at the UNW office. PS: I’ve been part of UNW’s graduate programme for three years, working in audit has given me great insight into how different organisations operate. From week to week, we can go from working with a small charity or law firm, to large manufacturing companies. It really does gives you a great understanding of the business world. Could you describe your exam training in a little more detail? PS: It’s been very challenging, but also very rewarding. A difficult aspect is undoubtedly working during the day as well as studying at evenings and weekends, but in my experience as a third-year, this has only been for short periods at a time. Plus, the rewards are significant when you put the work in.
The senior staff at UNW have always been extremely approachable, and if you are ever having problems with any aspect of the job, they are extremely supportive and helpful.What are the main positive aspects about your job? EW: Going to meet different clients and working with a wide range of people has been a very positive experience for me! We also get the chance to cover all the areas of audit testing at such an early stage of the training programme, and if we want to try a new area, then there is freedom there to do so. BH: Working in audit, there’s also a lot of room for progression, and you are given a lot of responsibility at an early stage of your career, which has definitely helped my development.Could you describe one thing you particularly enjoy about working at UNW? EW: The best thing about UNW is the people, and the support they offer you!
Everybody is so friendly, approachable and willing to help whether it be on something you are stuck on at college or a test you are carrying out on an audit. PS: It’s also very socially active as a firm, whether it be raising money for charity by doing an 80-mile bike ride, or attending social evenings with quizzes and drinks, there’s always plenty going on!