In Their Words – How Academic Trainees Actually Feel About The ATP
Choosing to participate in the Academic Traineeship Programme (ATP) in the first year of your three-year training contract may well be one of the most important and rewarding decisions you can make about your future career. It’s a unique programme that provides numerous opportunities for your own development, as well as the development of other young CAs and the profession as a whole so it is worth considering.
That’s all well and good in theory, but what about the day to day reality of the programme? It’s just as important to hear about the lows as the highs, so you can make an informed decision.
We asked this year’s academic trainees to dish the dirt on the ATP in a workshop hosted at SAICA’s offices in Johannesburg. This is what they had to say:
· You are most likely going to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing when you first begin – there’s no training course before you begin that will teach you how to mark or get up in front of a lecture theatre full of students and give the perfect lecture. It can definitely be intimidating the first few times you do it, but those nerves will disappear as you gain experience and confidence – and if you find a way to prepare for lectures that works for you (by practising in the mirror for instance) then so much the better. Remember that none of us really know what we’re doing when we first start out, so don’t feel too dispirited if you don’t think you’re hitting the mark in the first few weeks. Give it time.
· Get ready for marking … lots and lots of marking. Marking is the bane of many academic trainees’ lives. “It means having to work extra hours just to get it all done,” says Ambrose Tekolo, an academic trainee at North-West University, Mafikeng campus. But it’s a reality of the job, and one that you can quickly conquer with experience under your belt. Think of it this way: it’s probably 10 times less soul destroying than sitting in peak hour Sandton traffic.
· You may not want to stay in academia after your contract because you won’t feel like an expert. The main objectives of the ATP is to encourage academic trainees to join academia after completion of their training contract to continue to develop the talent pool of the profession. However, most academic trainees admit they don’t pursue a career in academic circles because they don’t feel qualified enough to do so. But in a country with the gaping educational gaps that ours has, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your academic trainee year will provide you with invaluable experience, you will learn on the job and there are likely to be mentors in the department who will gladly take you under their wing.
And on the plus side:
· You don’t get this kind of flexibility in the corporate world. It won’t feel like it at the time, but academic trainees have more flexibility in their working hours than other trainees. Make the most of it.
· Fulfilment – as an academic trainee, you are part of something bigger because education plays a vital role in South Africa’s future. You have the opportunity to contribute to building that future and the profession, so if you are passionate about making a difference, it might just be the right opportunity for you.
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