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What is it like working in Accounts and Audit as an AAT Trainee?

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them so that you can improve your future performance.”

I have been working as an accounts and audit trainee for Menzies LLP for the past year and a half. My day-to-day role sees me working for clients from different sectors and the work I undertake is always varied. I work as part of the legal team to carry out SARs, the audit team to carry out Audits and as part of the accounts team to compile year end accounts. After deciding University wasn’t the right move for me, I realised I wanted to gain experience in the workplace whilst being able to study for a qualification. Menzies have enabled me to do just that and hopefully this might encourage you to hit submit on your application.   

Emily Sleet,  AAT Accounts and Audit Trainee

Why did you choose a job in this sector/profession?

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When I first started working for Menzies, I had recently dropped out of University. I had no idea what I really wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be challenged and to work whilst studying. My mother works as a self-employed bookkeeper and I had started to help with her work; therefore I took it upon myself to start studying towards the AAT Level 2 Bookkeeping Qualification. The more of the course I worked through, the more I realised I had found a career I was passionate about; it was from this realisation that I found Menzies through an advert for their trainee programme.

Although I had started learning a little about accountancy through the course I was on, I didn’t have a lot of experience in the profession so I was worried I would not be qualified enough for the trainee role. I spoke with HR a few times on the phone before I was invited to a face to face interview. They were so kind and helped answer all the questions I had leading up to the interview. From this I knew without a doubt that I wanted to join Menzies and learn more about accountancy through their trainee programme.

I was so excited to start in the September cohort and I was invited to a summer party before my start date so that I could get to know the team I would be working with in a more relaxed atmosphere. Since this first meeting I have felt very comfortable and respected by my colleagues. The Better Place to Work Team at Menzies work hard to make the work environment as positive and inclusive as possible, with employee wellbeing at the centre of what they do. Through COVID-19 and a few personal issues that have happened during the past year, Menzies have really looked after myself and my family – it truly is a ‘better place to work’.

What are your main duties / roles?

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In the first week of work new trainees are sent to our Heathrow office where we undertake basic accounting training and initial induction. You are also enrolled onto the AAT course and are given dates for when your courses will start. After the first week, I was being given real responsibility, and, with guidance and support from my manager, I was able to start working on real clients straight away. This is something that has allowed me to gain a better understanding not only of my work but also with regards to my studies.

On a day-to-day basis, I work for different departments within the accounts and audit team. My work is therefore constantly changing and varied. I love this aspect of my job as I am always being challenged and no two days are ever the same. Even If I work on audits week after week, the work is always different as no two clients’ financial information, and therefore audit, is ever the same.

Although I work as part of three teams within the Audit and Accounts department (SAR, Audit and Accounts), most of the work I undertake is independent and, therefore, it is imperative to have good time management skills. As a trainee, it’s important to know when to ask for help. As I have now been with Menzies for over a year, I also help to train the newer trainees in my office. -This is something I enjoy doing as it helps to confirm my own understanding of the accounting profession.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

As I am almost at the end of my apprenticeship with Menzies, I have now started thinking more about my future progression. Once I have qualified, I would really like to continue my training and study for my Associated Chartered Accountant Qualification (ACA) as this is my long term goal. Menzies are really committed to their trainees and continue to offer training programmes after the Associated Accounting Technician Qualification (AAT) that I am currently training for.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to enter the profession?

If I were to give advice to anyone thinking of applying for a trainee position at Menzies, the best advice would be to ask as many questions as you can. Even if you think you might be wrong or sound silly, from experience you will learn a lot more by putting yourself out there and questioning ‘why’ rather than by just sitting in silence. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them so that you can improve your future performance.

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