Maximise the benefit of your SAICA training contract
Your training contract can be one of the most beneficial periods of learning and growth in your life and career. From my personal experience and my experience of working with trainees and training offices here are a few insights into how to maximise the benefit of your training contract.
Take responsibility for your own development
Your career starts after you qualify. Your training contract will equip you with what you need to get there. You are not expected to perform as a qualified CA(SA) until you exit your contract so allow yourself this time to learn.
There is something magical that happens during the training contract that cannot be explained – it is more than technical skill or professional competence. Allow this opportunity to impact you and grow you in whatever way presents itself.
If at any point you feel you are being significantly challenged or that you are failing – well done - you’re on track! You’re being presented with an opportunity to stretch yourself to the next level. Use the feedback you receive to focus your development.
Learn from everything
The training contract presents new opportunities for growth every day. Whether it’s asking you to apply your technical skills in a new way; deal with a challenging relationship; balance your studies, work and personal life; stretch your thinking; or requiring you to stand up for your values and ethics – this is all part of the process.
Manage your time and balance your priorities
Your life encompasses three main domains – you, what you do and your relationships.
Different times of your life will demand different amounts of time, energy and attention in each of these domains. During your studies and training contract it is natural that ‘what you do’ will demand more of your time, energy and attention. Prepare yourself for that.
This does not mean neglecting your physical wellbeing or your relationships, but it does require a shift in emphasis. At other stages in your life you may be required to shift emphasis towards one of the other domains – allow this to be a natural flow – balancing and rebalancing as required.
Surround yourself with support
You are not expected to know or be able to do everything. It is okay to ask for help.
If you are struggling to see where you are going or need help remembering why you started this, find a role model. Start with the resources at your disposal and build your network.
Training offices – how to support your trainees
Model the professional behaviour you want your trainees to develop. Provide feedback directly and with dignity. Remember positive reinforcement builds morale – acknowledge what is going well.
Open the communication channels and listen to feedback from your trainees. This does not necessarily mean acting on all requests or suggestions, but it does mean encouraging trainees to have a voice and taking action where necessary. You are growing your future colleagues and possibly even partners.
Support your trainees’ progress on-the-job and academically. Take study leave and development needs into account in planning staff. Consider other ways you could provide support – it could be as simple as making a boardroom available after hours or providing a loan to fund a support course.
Plan staff equitably. Idle time can be very demoralising, as can excessive overtime. Address the underlying causes of inequitable work distribution.
The training contract period can be tough but so valuable. Take the opportunities presented and use them to maximise your experience. Ask for support at home and at work and allow yourself the time to grow and learn.
Tonia Jackson is a CA(SA) and Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation. Her company, Coach Creative, designs customised Life Skills Development Programmes including the Big Picture workshop which has been run for SAICA trainees since 2013. Tonia is also part of the SAICA Training Office review team.
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