I found the placement very hard at times and there is a lot of on-the-job learning. Although the work was difficult and working away from home sometimes was hard to get used to, I felt as a whole I have learnt a huge amount in just one year and I have developed so many skills during my time at Mazars, meeting some great people along the way. I am grateful that I had such a challenging but fulfilling placement.
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I would usually be out at a client site working with a team and I would be given responsibility of certain areas of the audit so being given responsibilities and having help from colleagues along the way made me feel like a valued member of the team and as though I was contributing to the overall audit. On a couple of occasions there were clashed with team members but as a whole I felt I fitted in well with the team.
My line manager was very supportive, helping to explain work queries and even arranging a practice presentation for my University academic requirements. I felt I was able to ask any question and I would get the help I needed. The seniors in the team were mostly very helpful on a day-to-day basis - I asked a lot of questions and most were very willing to sit down and explain things. Sometimes I felt things weren't explained in as much detail as I needed to feel comfortable with the work but this was only the odd occasion and mostly was due to the circumstances - being pushed for time, for example.
The first few weeks of the placement I was in the office and there wasn't much work, but then when the 'busy season' hit there was a lot of work to do, which was good to keep busy but a few jobs required working late nights or having to carry work over from one client when I was booked to another but this comes with practice and it is the nature of the job where certain times of the year are very busy and some very quiet.
I was treated as a graduate and had the job role of a junior assistant in the team which is where all first years are placed. When on a job, I would always be contributing to the audit pack and as the months progressed I would be given other, more complicated areas to work on and guided through how to test these. I felt that everything I did was contributing in some way and we were given responsibility over the areas allocated to us. Although it was ultimately the senior person in the team to delegate work and, I was still able to discuss certain testing and I could test it differently if I felt it was more effective, so I felt like I had a say. I would also be given stocktakes to attend which I would attend alone and have to use my own initiative if any problems occurred.
I really learnt a lot in my year in industry, from soft skills such as time management, communication and team work, to developing my knowledge of accounting and auditing which will help in my final year studying Accounting & Finance. The training will no doubt help in similar industries and being in a working environment for a year will definitely prepare me for working-life after my degree.
During busy season I was rarely in the office so this depended on how well I knew the team I was out on site with, how well we worked as a team and how comfortable I felt to ask questions. In the office, the atmosphere is open and everyone is friendly. We had monthly dress down days with drinks after work and an Away Day where the whole office attended and took part in outdoor activities. Also events such as the Christmas Party and quarterly departmental socials meant that I got to know a lot of people in my department and also outside. I also got on well with my intake which added to the friendly atmosphere.
I think it was organised well overall, there was a 3 day induction with all other UK offices, I was given the same job role as the graduates and I was given time to complete University requirements. As it was the first year that my office had offered a placement, on some occasions I would email with a query and it would get passed around and then not resolved due to nobody really knowing the correct procedure, but in general it was organised.
I undertook quite a lot of training, from online courses to training days in the office on the systems used and how to test certain things. I also took my first 2 ICAEW exams, attending college and having all materials provided, al within the training contract with Mazars. Most of the training was skills-based and linked to the job role so I didn't really take part in any personal training courses but I think I gained this on the job throughout the year.
I have been offered a role as a second year when I finish my third year, providing I obtain a 2.1. The company also provided a sponsorship to help towards my fees for my final year. I have accepted the offer and I think I am likely to return if I get the grades - although it has been one of the most challenging years, I think the first year is probably the hardest to get settled in to a new environment.
My intake included one other placement student, one school leaver and a few graduates. I got on really well with this group and we often went out for drinks after work. Other social events such as monthly drinks after work and department socials often ended with drinks and a night out after and we also organised our own meet ups such as going to Go Ape on a weekend as a social event.
My office is based in central Birmingham so this is quite expensive, however I lived at home so this saved on costs. Depending on what bars/clubs we went to the costs of a social night could be quite expensive but there are also reasonably priced places. It is not necessary to live in Birmingham for my job role as I was very rarely in the office anyway and sometimes stayed away in hotels for weeks at a time.
Birmingham gets very busy on the weekends and there would often be people filling the pubs and bars after work on a Friday, or even from lunchtime. There is a range of areas with different kinds of bars and clubs with a lot of choice depending on the kind of place you were looking for. The office is quite close to Broad Street and there are a range of pubs and bars right next to the office.
Socials and work events were put on regularly and sometimes meals out with clients/ the team for good work. I also took part in the Birmingham 10k run with others from the office. There were many other opportunities for networking or charity fundraising events that I didn't take part in. The one thing I would have liked would be a sports team such as netball - there was a football team but not much for the girls!