Ciara chats about joining the Chartered Accountants Student Society
I joined Grant Thornton in 2015 and being honest, I never thought I would see the day. I had done quite badly in my Leaving Cert (my parents still blame the TV that was always on while I was “studying”) and struggled to find a course that I could do.
Accounting was no longer an option for me, so after an interview in DCU the morning after my Debs (don’t ask me how I did it) I turned my head to Engineering. After 2 years I realised accounting was still what I really wanted to do however, at that point I was 20 years old and had in my head that I didn’t want to stay in college full time for another 3 / 4 years (age complex). So, I decided to work full time while studying Accounting and Finance part-time at Griffith College and I finally felt I was doing something I loved. I applied in 2015 to do a secretary role in Grant Thornton to get my foot in the door while I was studying but got turned down due to a lack of qualifications, however I was offered a role in the risk department and an option to start the training contract straight after I graduated. I couldn’t believe my luck and grabbed this opportunity with both hands.
Four years on now and I have learnt and grown so much over my time in Grant Thornton. I have been given the opportunity to go through the training programme and will qualify this December. I have worked on some industry-leading clients and have been given a lot of responsibility over my time here. What I really enjoy about my role is the varying topics and areas that I can learn from and develop. I have not only increased my technical knowledge over the last four years but also my soft skills and management skills. Grant Thornton want to see their employees grow and support their career paths as even now after I completed my ACA exams last August, I am currently studying for a Certificate in Anti-Money Laundering which Grant Thornton are sponsoring.
I have also been very proud to be part of some initiatives that Grant Thornton have rolled out in the last few years. I am part of a programme called People Voice that allows staff to provide feedback to the firm which then the working group strive to implement changes and have been very successful in this. I have also been part of a programme called Accelerate which aims to develop and nurture emerging female talent, building confidence and self-belief, developing effective networking skills and enabling a career planning mind-set. I have thoroughly enjoyed both and would be an advocate for all up and coming initiatives.
In 2016, I was asked by a fellow colleague to join the Chartered Accountants Student Society in Dublin. The committee has three essential functions; Introducing You (Social interaction and Networking - new student receptions, Gala Balls, Post Exam Drinks, Quizzes and many more), Representing You (Interaction with the Institute on behalf of students - Exam reports, Programme reports) and Supporting You (Assisting with any queries or issues students are facing, connect students with mentors for life after the training contract and Health and Wellbeing talks.) When I heard about all the work the committee does for students I was very excited to join and started as the PRO, handling the society’s publicity. Over the last three years, I have also taken up the post of Chair of Dublin and Vice-Chair of the Ireland society that oversees the regions. It has been such an enjoyable part of my time as a trainee and I have made a lot of friends and contacts that will really serve me well in my career. I believe that keeping busy during your studies with extra activities outside of work is very important to clear your mind and to look back at an enjoyable experience over your 3.5 years. Being on the committees allowed me to be more focused on my studies and talking to the education board gave me great insights into the exams.
As my training contract draws to an end and I move forward with my career in Grant Thornton I believe I have been given an amazing opportunity, with chances to learn from industry-leading clients and great mentors. I would say to graduates thinking of a career in accounting to go for it. It is a very rewarding career and you won’t believe how much you develop on a personal level. Also, to any students who like me didn’t get enough points or college grades, there are always options. All you have to do is find them and a company like Grant Thornton who wants to give an opportunity to everyone.