It wasn't something I had any experience in before, I'd done some basic accounting work experience but nothing proper. It takes a little getting used to, which is why there's the probation/settling in period of 6 months (9 months in the case of virtual/online), which really helps you settle in, whilst you're learning new things and getting better on each job. So far I'm still enjoying the placement as each job offers something new or different, and I feel like I'm getting better at each one. The virtual experience is obviously not as good as it would be in the office, there's no communication or office banter, so it can get quite lonely. Even with messaging or meetings, it's only really work based and not social based as with an office environment. So the work itself is quite good (If you like accounting, it can seem boring or monotonous to some people probably) - but you get offered the same jobs and work just as any other employee does, there's no dumbing down or 'making the tea', you do get involved.
You definitely get involved, you're not spoken down to because you're just a placement student - you get treated professionally just like everybody else in the firm. I think over time whilst you progress and get better, your work definitely gets appreciated as the placement students are a core part of the accounting department in the SSC, without it I don't think the department would get through nearly as much work. You're definitely valued, as they realise how important and integral placement students are to the success of the SSC.
Quite a lot of support - there's the IT side and basic introductory things during the first few weeks, which (with Covid) were virtual rather than in the office, but it all worked seamlessly and I didn't feel like I was struggling or anything. The work does take some wrapping your head round as it can be confusing at first, but there's a buddy you can ask for help, reviewers too and anyone in the office will always be willing to help or explain things to you. Your job's get peer reviewed for the first few months, so it helps you learn and get feedback along with the extra feedback from the normal reviews.
I haven't used the skills as of yet, but as basic as it may sound, I think even just being in a routine and having to log on and work every day has helped me be more productive or certainly put a focus on the work. It's not the same being at home, as I still get distracted on my phone etc. But having a job to do, and doing it professionally will probably/hopefully help when I go back to University and spend time studying rather than procrastinating. I think time management has been a big skill I've developed, not as many communication skills (In person) but acting professionally in a workplace I'd say I've still had some experience in.
Quite well structured, it was mostly getting used to the software and practicing making accounts for the first month or first couple of weeks - so you know what you're doing with the software and accounting side before you get given live jobs, so there's no instant pressure - you do get time to learn and get used to things. And when you do get live jobs, there's still the progress and slow exposure so you're not rushed into anything too quickly - I started on dormant companies, then you get small jobs, bigger jobs with cashflow statements or more notes etc, you get assigned amendments to do for other jobs along side this, whilst you get quicker/make fewer mistakes and develop your skills/knowledge. And I think in a few weeks I'll also gain exposure to consolidated companies and files. So it's definitely well structured, there's no pressure to perform or succeed straight away, they acknowledge that there is a learning curve and you won't get it all right first time, it's helps you settle in and learn at your own pace.
Quite good, it's hard to gauge the atmosphere working virtually - I think everyone is quite welcoming, you don't need to be afraid to ask someone a question as they're always willing to talk or help you out. I don't think the atmosphere is anything like the office as you're by yourself for the most part, so you can't really talk much about work or make friends as you would be able to do in person which is a shame so there's not much social atmosphere, but as a work atmosphere it's fine.
I'm not sure invest is the right term - there is definitely lots of help with regards to the IT side - you get given a company laptop to work from home and you get plenty of time to learn how to use the accounting software - there are training courses you can sign up for online to learn communication skills, business writing, time management etc, I think most skills you just learn on the job or develop overtime rather than through specific training or lessons - you learn as you go.
I think it is pretty much a similar experience to what you'd get with a full time job, at least when you first join the firm. Obviously if you're at the firm longer or a manager you may conduct more reviews or talk to more requestors or clients, which so far I've not done. But for everything else I think it's the same experience - same software, same jobs come through and they just get assigned to placement students or full time staff, there's no segregation of jobs (Aside from the training/difficulty side whilst you're still learning), but once you're settled in and know what you're doing it's the same as full time, because it essentially is.
There are talks or articles on the website etc. which talk about company culture and I'd say that's represented in the way the department works. They're very understanding and supportive, they don't put pressure on you but at the same time, help you learn or progress so that your work becomes a good standard. It's hard to assess the company culture whilst you're working from home - but there's no pressure to stay late or work extra which I think is common in the Big 4.
I think it's still made me want to be an accountant. I think I'd enjoy the job moreso than the ICAEW training etc. and all the stuff you need to do along side the job to become qualified (I'm just enjoying working at the moment). I think it's also made me want to stay with BDO or a company like them, as I think with the Big 4 there's pressure to stay late, meet deadlines and you tend to overwork yourself or get treated as a number, whereas from my experience there's a better work life balance, it's an enjoyable job and it's not as stressful as I think it could be elsewhere (But granted I haven't had experience elsewhere)
I was paid £14,500 living in Liverpool, which isn't the most you'll get paid but it's a decent amount. I found a studio/apartment block type place to live in the city centre which cost about half my monthly wage, the rest to spend on food and drink (My bills were included, no council tax as I'm as student etc.). So it's not a massive salary at the end of the day but it's just about enough. I don't think you'll ever get paid loads as a student but that's the same wherever I think. Also working from home probably helped me save a little more money, but I could walk to work anyway. So you might have more/less at the end of the month, it was enough for me.
Not particularly, working from home that is obviously one major disadvantage is that you cant really meet or interact with people. You don't really see many people outside of your department either - the opportunity is there if it arises, but it's not a given so I mostly only interact with people within the accounting department (Reviewers, asking for help etc.) and requestors occasionally too - I wouldn't call it networking either, just business communication, I'm not asking for their details or linkedin etc.
Again, Covid has sort of cancelled this out. Ordinarily, I think yes there are - like baking days, certain events throughout the year, sometimes a quiz in a Thursday or Friday meeting, but working from home there's not really much you can do. No real opportunity to meet people outside work (At the moment) and no events running either so it is lonely or isolating, but that's working from home. If in a year or two things are back to normal you'll probably have a better experience.
There are charity days where you get allocated I think 5 or 10 days a year where you conduct charity or volunteering work on behalf of the firm (I think you still get paid), but again with Covid there hasn't been much talk or mention of it apart from one Christmas opportunity. And there's a fantasy football league but again, without being in the office you can't really talk or have banter with it with anyone, and I'm not sure about activities outside of work really.
Yeah I think it's definitely a good experience to learn more about accounting. Idk how this virtual experience compares to others, it can be quite lonely but that's probably the same for the whole firm, and living by myself doesn't help. From the work side it's perfectly good, probably the same as if you were in the office. But it's the people/interaction side you miss out on which is a shame, but there's not a whole lot you can do about that.
18th November 2020