If you have taken the academic trainee route, or are considering doing so, one of the concerns that has probably crossed your mind is the transition from academic trainee into the training office based’ trainee. You may worry that choosing to go the academic trainee path will put you on the back foot when you enter the training office in your second year because you have been separated from your trainee peers and haven’t had a chance to integrate into the training office.
But you have no reason to worry!
According to senior manager at KPMG Mandy Bellis, the majority of training offices and managers are very understanding and will give you a six-month grace period to acclimatise to corporate life and find your feet.
But what exactly can you expect when you join a training office after completing a one-year academic trainee programme?
Here are some tips that might help you settle in:
In terms of what you’ll be expected to do:
“You have a strong technical background which you’ll have to put into practice in a more time-pressured environment,” Bellis comments. That is why it’s important for you to understand upfront all about the SAICA competency framework, assessment in the training office and the firm’s performance criteria. In addition, get to know your firm’s culture and policies to make your transition smoother.
In terms of what your managers will expect from you:
While some managers will expect you to just get on with it and may hold you to a higher standard because of your technical knowledge, most will be happy to help you adjust. There are some steps you can take yourself to make it even more painless: don’t wait until January to start networking with managers from your firm, advises Bellis - rather introduce yourself early on and start setting meaningful goals. Once you are in the training office, look for opportunities to exercise your skills and not only rise to, but exceed, expectations.
In terms of what to expect from your trainee peer group:
Your peers who have already spent a year together in the training office might have already connected and established relationships, but there is no need to feel like the odd one out. As with your managers, don’t wait until you start to network. Ask your firm to include you in functions, take opportunities to meet people through your varsity friends who are already working in a training office and use social media to connect. Don’t be afraid to ask for a ‘buddy’ when you start either. “The important thing is to expand your horizon, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak to people at all levels. The firm will see how keen you are to get involved and will be happy to help you,” says Bellis.
In terms of what to expect from clients:
Perhaps the most important tip you can remember is that every client presents a learning opportunity. Research your client portfolio early on, come up with practical suggestions and be ready to engage with your clients on different levels and topics.
Ultimately, remember that doing an academic trainee year means that you are already well on your way to starting your career and achieving your goals. “When entering the training office, be realistic – don’t put too much pressure on yourself – and be positive. Attitude goes a long way towards success,” Bellis concludes.
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