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My ACA experience: Kayleigh

As Kayleigh enjoyed maths at school the idea of working in finance appealed to her, but she thought accountancy was just number crunching. After hearing about the variety of different jobs you can do with the ACA at a networking event with ICAEW and EY, she decided to start her training straight after her A levels.

Kayleigh Anderson

Kayleigh Anderson Business Trainee, EY

ICAEW route: School-leaver programme

Industry: Various

Location: UK, London

Kayleigh's story...

When deciding what job I wanted to do I thought about which subjects I enjoyed most at school. I always knew I liked business and maths so felt the finance industry or accounting might be a good routes for me. 

I attended a networking event at EY where the ICAEW explained how the ACA is an internationally recognised professional qualification which could open the door to a wide range of job opportunities in the future. 

I have to say that originally I thought accountancy was just number crunching. I was pretty excited when I heard about the different jobs you can do with the qualification. For example, the team I work in help businesses to raise cash quickly and run more efficiently. 

During school I think that we are all naturally exposed to the training we need for the workplace, but we just don’t realise. Everything from working in a team in sports to preparing group presentations are types of activities which prepared me for the workplace. I think the most important thing is that you are confident and show a willingness to learn.

To tell you what my typical working day looks like is quite difficult! I actually plan my working day the night before so that I can make sure I don’t forget the smaller tasks which are often time critical.

Tasks could include anything from preparing a tracker in Excel to keep my project team up to date with key actions that need to be completed, to preparing a statutory report to some creditors who may be owed money by a company in administration.

I work in Transaction Advisory Services in Restructuring, and I think I am fortunate to have flexible working hours. It’s not easy balancing studying and work at the same time and you will have to spend some of your extra time revising when it comes round to exams, but it will definitely be worth it once I have qualified.

My favourite part of my job is that the team I work with are good fun to be around. It wouldn’t be the same working in an office where there was zero banter!

I knew that I wanted to go into finance and probably would have studied finance at university.

I got two As and a B in my A levels, I had options, but it seemed a little silly to go to university and accrue a whole load of debt when I knew I could start earning a wage, gain invaluable experience in the workplace and qualify as a chartered accountant a year earlier than had I gone to university.

I have developed a range of technical skills since starting the ACA. For example I’ve gained experience in analysing a company’s financial statements and making assumptions around whether it is showing signs of distress.

My biggest challenge has been learning to manage people’s expectations. It’s easy to overpromise work to people, you should always give yourself extra time to complete tasks – which is easier said than done!

In five years’ time I will be a fully qualified chartered accountant with more than seven years of experience - all by the age of 25! 

I’m not too sure what exactly I’ll be doing, but I know that I’ll have plenty of options available to me with the ACA qualification under my belt.

My advice to others thinking about what career they would like to enter, is to write down all the possible jobs you think you might be interested in, literally everything! Then go through that list and pick out the ones which get you the most excited. 

Research all the routes available in those fields - university, school leaver programmes and apprenticeships - because the best thing you can do is make an informed decision. 

Also, talk to other people who are already doing what you want to do and get advice from them. 

Finally, you can apply to both university and a school leaver programme - then you’ll be able to make your final decision when you get your results at sixth form or college.

Find your route

There are a number of different routes to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. You can start your journey straight from school, while you're at university or after you have graduated. Find out which route is right for you.

Find your route