Academic trainee’s will have had very different experiences when they join the firm at the start of their second year in the training contract compared to other second year trainees, Mandy Bellis, a senior manager at KPMG told delegates at a SAICA Academic Trainee Workshop earlier this year. She was advising academic trainees on what to expect when they joined a training office after the completion of their academic training programme.

Undertaking the first year of the training contract in an academic traineeship, she said, was a fantastic opportunity to learn different skills: speaking to an audience and honing your communication and technical skills and research are all competencies that will stand you in good stead for your future.

Having completed your first year of your training contract in the academic trainee programme your second year will see you put your technical skills into practice, she said. “Don’t panic but you will be playing catch up for the first six months,” she advised. “You will find that you’re in a more time pressured environment where every hour counts. Ensure that you’re effective for every hour.”

Her advice to academic trainees was to ensure they had a good understanding of the SAICA competency framework and SAICA’s on the job assessment requirements. “Investigate what first year trainees at firms were doing and what your firm in particular expects you to have done in your first year - and then figure out how you are going to develop and demonstrate those competencies.”

She also suggested finding out whether your firm runs any vac training courses and enquiring whether you can participate in those courses. “This is not always possible as some universities   do not allow this during the academic training year.”

Meet your manager

Before starting work with the firm she suggested setting up a meeting time with your assigned manager to discuss their expectations of you for the year ahead. “Don’t wait for January to start networking with your manager as they are usually too busy by then. Ideally you should set up a meeting with them the previous year to introduce yourself and in order to set up meaningful goal setting.”

She also reminded trainees that different managers have different management styles: some are macro managers while others are micro managers. “Remember that you will need to adapt your style according to the type of manager you work with.”

It’s important for trainees to understand the requirements of SAICA versus what your firm requires of you from a performance perspective. Find out if your firm uses LTS (Learner Tracker System) and whether you need LTS training.


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