Heartiest congratulations on passing IPCC level and entering the final destination of this esteemed professional course - CA Final.
You have successfully cleared one more hurdle and have reached the second last level before fulfilling your dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant.
However, till now you have experienced only the academic intensity of CA course; now is the time to live its practical magnitude by joining ARTICLESHIP.
Next three years will help you in shaping up the career as a budding professional, as you will learn the nitty-gritty of various fields and gain advance knowledge of the practical scenarios.
Five years ago, I was in a similar situation when I started searching for the articleship. During the articleship, I learnt numerous things which not only helped during the finalsbut even today, those learnings are crucial for my well-being.
LEARNING 1: LinkedIn can get you desired articleship
"I can't find an articleship. Nobody cares to reply on LinkedIn", a girl told me in low tone yesterday while discussing the hardships of finding articleship.
I recalled my days five years ago when I was also finding a suitable CA firm. I was not acquainted with LinkedIn, so I had to grovel my physical network and wandering around with a copy of my resume in hand.
Today, the opportunities are piling up due to LinkedIn and a person can pursue articleship anywhere in India.
Where is the problem?
The girl did not update her LinkedIn profile. She did not engage with the CA firm partners. Instead, she kept sending the resumes blindly after connecting, which annoyed those partners.
What is the solution?
Don't go blind while searching for articleship. Make a list of 10 desired CA firms and reach out to their partners systematically, telling them why do you want to pursue articleship with that firm.
Start posting on taxes or accounting or auditing etc. and let people realise your hunger to learn.
LinkedIn has become more than just a “job portal”. You can capitalize on the LinkedIn network to get the desired articleship as you enter into the most exciting phase of CA.
LEARNING 2: Best CA Firm doesn't exist on the planet
I always wanted to pursue my articleship from the best CA firm in India. I had prepared myself about it from the day itself when I cleared my IPCC exam.
I talked to my seniors, teachers, mentors and every person I met through the way. I also searched for the "Best CA Firms" all over the internet.
However, after extensive research, I realised one crucial learning. There's nothing like a best CA firm as such.
All CA firms (Big 4 or medium sized) are unique and competitive in themselves. You can't rank them in any order.
They are all different according to the domains they deal in, total workforcethey possess, and the clientele they handle.
However, the most critical thing - They are all OCEAN of KNOWLEDGE. You can learn and grow in any CA firm if you are committed and eager to learn the practical aspects.
What is the message for new joiners?
Think upon the domain or field you want to get in (what subject interests you) and start searching for a suitable firm according to your choice and preference (not regarding how people rank them).
LEARNING 3: Don't feel shy in learning whatever is given to you
I had to xerox hundreds of audit documents in the initial phase of the articleship.
It was so frustrating because xeroxing wasn't something I had joined an articleship for.
My seniors or the principal would mail me some document for print. I had to set the print size, edit the margins several times and check the paper thrice before final print.
I had literally copied so many documents that I became pro in operating the Xerox machine.
I knew what to do when the machine would stop working, or the paper would stick in the tray, or the cartridge would get empty.
"Why am I doing the work of an office boy?", I would often think.
A few months later, CFO of an FMCG conglomerate was struggling with print size and margin issue while we were discussing an audit observation with him.
Since I knew how to fix the issue, I helped him, and he got so impressed with me. Today, he and I share a healthy professional relationship.
"Am I audit intern or a data entry operator?", I would question my dignity.
In the initial period of articleship, my senior used to prepare the tax report in excel sheet. The excel sheet would consist of tax data, calculation and final tax return.
He would then ask me to fill the data from the excel sheet into the tax software.
All the day, I would keep filling data in the tax software. Plus, I couldn't even copy paste the data since tax software didn't allow copy -paste.
It was frustrating, but I had to do it.
As I kept on doing it for a few days, I realized it wasn't as easy as I thought. I had to maintain my focus and concentration while seeing the data in excel and entering it into the software against a particular column.
Matching the data in excel sheet vis-a-vis returns column wise was a daunting task.
Two years later, when I was auditing the work process of a tax manager of an MNC, it required the same focus and concentration since his excel sheet comprised of 150 columns, and it had to be checked against a pdf file which couldn't be converted into excel.
I reconciled it successfully, and we could make a substantial audit observation out of it.
What is the message?
Don't consider any work less important or boring. Learn whatever you can during the articleship. You don't know how and when it would open new opportunities for you.
LEARNING 4: Learn the deliberate practice
"Don't go for practice, go for deliberate practice", my principal advised on the 6th day of articleship.
I was sitting with a senior and observing him working on aged receivable excel sheet. He was moving hands on the keyboard at lightning speed to apply formulas using shortcuts.
I was shocked to seeing him play around with MS Excel swiftly. My principal recognized this and asked me to come in his cabin.
"Are you dumbstruck watching him working in a flash?"
"Yes. Will I be able to match the speed ever?"
"Yes. Anyone can. Practice makes a person perfect."
"Oh yeah, I'll practice and practice more."
"Don't go for practice, go for deliberate practice."
I was dumbstruck yet again. "What's deliberate practice?",I thought.
He illustrated, "Learn the formulas and shortcuts of MS Excel and practice on them but don't do unnecessary repetitions. Give it a go a few times, and start learning new formulas. MS Excel will be filled with new formulas now and then, so you can't proclaim yourself as an expert".
Not just excel, do it with all the new learnings you get. When you begin learning a new thing, practice it for some time and move ahead to learn next. Don't stick in making learning or a skill perfect.
Even today, the principal's advice echoes in my ears, "Don't go for practice, go for deliberate practice."
The Bottom Line
Articleship is going to be the most exciting phase as a budding professional. Utilize it fully to learn new and adventurous things. Also, participate in the ICAI National Conferences as student paper presenter and hone the public speaking and networking skills. Learn as much as you can and don't shy away from making mistakes because they give you new learnings.
The author is a content writer and strategist. In his free time, he likes to advise and mentor the students about articleship and other CA related areas. He can also be reached on LinkedIn or at email@example.com