My three years as a trainee accountant

After the first two weeks of induction training, heading to my first audit, I felt as if I had been thrown into the deep end.   This year was about adjusting to the audit environment and learning new skills, and by the end of that first year everything didn’t seem as overwhelming as it did at first.

However, the second year made the first year seem like there was nothing to it! There was a lot more work with a lot more complexities - it felt as if the work had multiplied overnight. Out of necessity, this was when I learnt how to manage my time.  I learned the hard way when, on my first out of town audit, there was limited time to complete the work, resulting in my first experience of late nights spent chasing a tight deadline.

The third year added responsibility to the experience.  Now, the challenge of managing the work of others was added to all those audits where you were previously only worried about completing your own.

At a medium-sized firm, I was exposed to different industries such as manufacturing, property and investment holdings, non-profits and many others. I even had the opportunity to prepare trust accounting records and financial statements, providing me with opportunities to learn something new every day. This made me realise again how much is not taught at university, but only learnt in practice.

Each of the three years brought new challenges and required a new skill, not just technically but also professionally. Some of the memories that I have accumulated along the way can never be repeated, for example printing an audit file!  With everything going paperless, most trainees today will never experience the "pleasure" of taking the better part of a day at the end of the audit to print a file - an honour usually reserved for first year trainees.  Other fond memories include scary sounding lifts at Johannesburg clients, causing a fire hazard with the tangle of extensions, laptop chargers and network cables, counting inventory in cold warehouses on stock counts in the middle of winter and even a client whose system crashed and we had to work only from hard copies of their financial records.  All these experiences made me appreciate modern technology on an audit.

During this time, I learned to make the most of every day and learn from the experience of being on a difficult audit.  I also learned not to get stuck on one issue, but to move on to something else and when you return to the issue later you can look at it with fresh eyes - an essential life and time management skill.  I learned to adapt to different working environments, since no two clients are the same and your audit team members may include someone that you have never worked with before.

The three years of my training contract were some of the best years in terms of experiences and learning, so far.

Maxine Hammond

Manager | Audit Readiness & Special Project, Johannesburg


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