Placement Year Insight – Josh
Are you considering doing a placement at Grant Thornton as part of your degree programme? If so, you’re in the right place. I’ll explain what life has been like for me at Grant Thornton since I started, why I chose accountancy, and then specifically why I chose Grant Thornton.
I’m currently doing my placement year at the Milton Keynes office in Audit and I’m studying a History degree (more on that later) at Loughborough.
Placements are growing in popularity and there are a lot of benefits to doing them. The most notable of which being that you get a year of practical work experience, exposure to a wide variety of people from different industries, and the potential of a graduate employment offer which will take a lot of stress away from your final year back at University. On top of this, if you aren’t sure exactly what you want to do after graduating, they are a great way of seeing if a particular industry – such as accounting – is what you want to ultimately end up doing.
Grant Thornton is a company that’s very confident in its position of focusing on mid-sized companies and enabling them to grow. This is part of the fabric that makes Grant Thornton a very desirable company to work for. You get to meet a lot of ambitious business leaders who, in a few years, may well be very influential people, people that will form part of your network. It’s also a great place to work in terms of office atmosphere as mentioned below.
One of the main concerns for a lot of people when looking for a 12-month placement in an accountancy firm is whether or not it is possible to do the first year of the ACA qualification – it certainly was a concern for me. I wasn’t able to find anything out about this before my first interviews for the position. I’ll get straight to the point: you won’t be able to do the first year of the ACA qualification during your year in industry. But, let me explain why this is actually really positive. In the interview I was told the following:
- Financially, it doesn’t make sense for the firm considering there is no guarantee that you will come back after graduation
- Professionally, you get a lot more face-to-face time with clients and get a fuller understanding of the industry – graduate and school leavers, for example, frequently take time out for their studies
- Personally, you get to go home on time every day and once you’re home you are extremely unlikely to have to do any work – whereas those doing exams will be revising extensively
- You can always reclaim the time worked so that if you do end up returning to Grant Thornton after graduation, you aren’t losing out on any time towards your qualification (the training contract is three years long and most people will finish their last exam and then have to wait to be time-qualified – so you’re already at an advantage)So although you may feel like you’re losing a year towards your qualification, you will actually be able to get more from the job as you’re doing more of it, and you can then claim the time back once you have a graduate role – and you can really enjoy your year with us!
Recently, Grant Thornton were ranked third out of the top 100 UK placement providers, making us the highest placed accountancy firm. The offices are all very friendly, and everyone is approachable – even the partners are very down to earth. This friendly nature means that everyone is willing to help you with your work, which is especially helpful if you’ve come to the accountancy profession from a non-accounting background (which is the category that I fit into)!
I don’t want to speak too much on it here because there’s a great head-to-head blog on it (http://traineeblog.grant-thornton.co.uk/2014/09/15/head-to-head-9-accountancy-vs-non-accountancy-degrees/). Put simply, it doesn’t matter what degree background you do. You will be so immersed in the work that you will pick it up very quickly. You will attend training courses with other placement students to improve your technical ability and develop as a professional. This means that you don’t miss out on Bradenham!
And for anyone who was wondering why I came into accountancy from a History background, it’s quite straightforward. I don’t see myself in a History-related career (essentially, working as a teacher or going into research). Assuming that I am offered a graduate job and become ACA-qualified, I will have gained a wide understanding of business and will have acquired transferable skills which mean, in theory, that I could work in any part of a business. It’s a great stepping stone for continuing in accountancy, but it doesn’t just limit you to that, and Grant Thornton is a great place to develop as a professional.