One of the greatest achievements for anyone studying to become a chartered accountant is probably the day that they graduate. Once this milestone has been achieved, the new CA is on the road to starting his or her career. Before embarking on this lifetime journey, it is very important that all young CAs take control of their future career as they enter the very competitive job market.
The first job a qualified CA takes is critical as it will define the direction of the graduate’s entire career. Decisions made and actions taken during this period can impact their professional future, so each move must be carefully considered and should be in line with the graduate’s future career goals.
The transition from being a student to being an employee can be tough, so young CAs must make sure that they are ready for this challenge. As a student, they are used to being managed in the casual ‘campus’ atmosphere whereas the work place will be a completely professional environment. The way they conduct themselves as a new CA should align with professional office conduct. They must realise that they may face various obstacles as they will not be ‘spoon-fed’ in the working world and as most offices have a hierarchy, they may not be immediately treated as an equal in the office.
Procrastination is not an option in the working world, as tasks have to be completed at a specific deadline that often cannot be extended. It is vital to plan properly and have good time management skills to ensure that a deadline can be met with ease – and not rush to get it done on the last minute, as this can also lead to mistakes. It is also important to learn how to work under pressure. There are always instances where a task has to be completed urgently and mistakes simply cannot slip through, so it is vital to know how to react to these requests.
It is also important to ‘talk the talk’ in the professional environment. It is important for the graduates to realise that the people in the office are their colleagues and not their university friends, so it is important to polish their communication skills for the workplace. They should be very careful of what they say and most importantly, how they say it.
Nobody will expect a new employee, especially one fresh out of university, to know everything on their first day.
However, the job market is increasingly competitive and those fortunate enough to land their first job need to do everything in their power to keep it. Make sure that you add value to the workplace in more than one way to prove that you are worthy of the position.
Take initiative and ask for more tasks to do, as it is imperative to be proactive and not sit unoccupied at the desk waiting for a new task.
Author: Tiffany Boesch CA(SA) is group financial director of PPS