Assistant within the external audit team. Help to carry out detailed, risk-based review of client's financial records and control environment.
The placement was hugely varied and due to the on-site, client based nature of the majority of the work I was able to gain good experience of a range of different sectors. This also ensured that if you were on a less enjoyable client, you were not on this for an extended period of time.
Immediately entering the role you are given a high degree of responsibility, which only grows over time. You are treated equally to graduate employees, and are immediately placed on audit jobs and given job-specific tasks rather than being sent to scan and print documents and organise the proverbial filing cabinet. The office environment was very friendly.
Audit teams are structured by classifying first and second years as 'red' students and third years and qualified employees as 'blues'. Each audit will usually feature a blue, who is able to mentor a red and answer any questions and guide and support them through an audit. I was also able to ask any supervisor or manager any questions I had, as there was an environment of support fostered in the office.
There are lots of busy periods, and when out on site (around 70% of the time throughout the year) you would be busy for the entire day. Even when in the office, there are often lots of things to pick up or help out in. However, during quiet periods (such as the months around Christmas), there were times where I would have entire days without work to do.
I was given a high degree of responsibility over my assigned works. Each audit would assign work to the different people on the audit, and you would be expected to complete your own individual areas and correct any issues identified through the review process. Later in the year I was given increasing responsibility for more and more of the audit areas, and the first year graduates that I joined with have recently started supervising some of the smaller audits.
The general business skills learnt through auditing a range of businesses, educational institutions and charities across the sectors are incredibly useful and provide knowledge of what makes an organisation successful. Similarly, the client-interaction skills are useful moving forward, as are the more technical accountancy skills that are picked up. The training courses provided also encourage networking and building relationships, a skill which will assist in later life.
The office atmosphere did vary; due to the client-based nature of the audit department, we could have 30 of us in the office or only 3 of us in the office. However, when people were in the office it was always fun and friendly. The office environment and open plan, hot-seat nature also encouraged you to interact with a range of people and hold conversations with other departments.
The placement year has been seamless and no issues have been noted on the side of RSM. I was able to join in September following my second year, allowing me to have a full summer, and will complete the year at the end of August. All in all, very well organised.
Up until around June-July, I was placed on all training courses that the first year graduates were placed on (after this point, the training courses are more tailored towards supervision and as such were not applicable to my role). These were often multi-day courses which involved overnight accommodation and catering. I was also able to enrol in a number of IT training courses at the expense of the company. Throughout the year there has also been the opportunity to take place in web based training in any relevant areas. However, unlike the graduates, placement students are not sent to college for ACA exams.
In late winter/spring, I was offered a three year graduate training contract upon the completion of my final year at university. However, I did not accept this offer. This was due to the fact that I would be accepting an offer for a job in around June 2018 that would not start until September 2019, and I did not feel that I had sufficiently explored all employment avenues at that time. However, I have been made aware that the door is still open should I want to apply again, although I would need to go through the assessment process once more.
I was the only placement student employed in the my office, and was part of a graduate intake of 6. Whilst we do have occasional work lunches, meals and/or drinks, the fact that graduates and school leavers have exams for the first 3 and 5 years of employment respectively does somewhat limit the amount to which we were able to socialise, as lots of their time was spent revising. Compared to larger employers in this sector that are able to employ a greater number of placement students - or roles where graduates have less of a focus on qualifications - I would expect the social scene to be better.
The cost of living was reasonable in the area in which we lived, as was the cost of socialising in comparison to the area. However, as we were on the outskirts of the area it required people to drive to the office, meaning we were not able to have spontaneous social events as we would be able to in a city centre, without the need for taxies etc.
The nightlife was not superb, and is highly geared towards the students at nearby universities. It also typically required expensive taxis back at the end of the night, and wasn't hugely geared towards more casual nights. As such, we did not have a huge number of work nights out in the area.
There were some opportunities. There are local football and rugby teams, as well as local gyms and fitness centres. However, the area lacks the opportunities of a city centre and can quickly become monotonous, meaning that during the year I spent quite a lot of time and resources travelling to see friends and do activities in other areas.