The objective of this article is to shed some light on the much-talked-about but a lesser-known facet of the CA curriculum - Industrial Training. I believe that Industrial Training is a worth-exploring alternative for all CA aspirants but is somehow less preferred owing to multiple apprehensions and little understanding of its pros and implications.
By way of this article, I aim to elaborate on-
- What does Industrial Training encompass of and the opportunities available?
- What are its pros and cons?
- How and When to look for and apply?
- How to make a decision?
- My personal experience as an Industrial trainee
1. What does Industrial Training encompass of and what are the opportunities available?
Industrial training helps to get a glimpse into how a corporate works, the culture, how it is structured and how various teams in an organization collaborate to ensure smooth business. It also helps in having a bird-eye's view of the operational side of a business which is very different from what a consulting/audit firm does.
For CAs, industrial training opportunities are available majorly in the following areas/domains-
- Banks & FI - Corporate banking (proper banking role), other roles
- Global Banks - Investment banking/valuation/pricing
- Top FMCGs - Finance function
- Other corporates - Accounting/Tax/Audit
Big 4's also offer industrial training roles in various departments
2. What are its pros and cons?
Opportunity to explore a corporate role before qualifying - this really helps in having a better direction once we qualify and avoids multiple switching of roles post qualification. If one is interested in lets say finance apparently - industrial training would help in getting a clear picture on whether finance actually interests you!
Easy route to enter corporates - It is comparatively easy to get into a Investment banking/Corporate finance role/Corporate banking during industrial training vis-s-vis post qualification. If the performance during industrial training is satisfactory coupled with a good CA final result, chances of getting a pre-placement offer is high in the same organization. On the other hand, entry into such roles post qualifying is much more difficult during to extensive competition.
Highlight on the resume - Since very few people actually pursue industrial training, it becomes a 'stand out' factor on the resume while applying for jobs post qualification. Also, while applying for a corporate role - it becomes highly advantageous to have a prior experience working in a corporate and helps in getting a preference for a particular role.
Expands learning horizon - After 2 years of articleship in the same role, one is through with all the various kinds of assignments and after a point of time, the learning curve becomes shallow. Switching to industrial training offers an exposure to altogether a new area which truly expands the learning horizon and a chance network with new people.
Hit on the study leave - The major drawback of industrial training is the lesser duration of study leave offered ( 2.5-4 months) as compared to a big4 or a mid size where the study leave policy ranges from 4 - 5.5 months. After all, the tenure of industrial training is also 9-12 months, how can corporates afford to offer long study- leaves in such a short tenure!
The uncertainty factor - After 2 years in the same firm, one becomes very comfortable with the work-culture and would generally want to avoid any risk of landing up in an undesired profile/work culture in the last year of articleship which is very crucial from the perspective of managing both - work and studies.
3. How and When to look for and apply?
This is the main part - with the desire to pursue industrial training, how should one move forward? How to apply? Where to apply? How to know about vacancies? When to start looking for opportunities?
Sharing few tips in this regard-
- Lets assume the CA Final attempt is May 2022. One should start looking for industrial training opportunities roughly 3-4 months prior to completing 2 years of articleship. Suppose the 2nd year of articleship ends somewhere in September/October 2021, the hunt should start from June 2021.
- Before applying, be clear what kinds of roles/ you are preferring and try to find out if any of your friends/colleagues have worked as industrial trainees in similar roles/organizations to know their first-hand experience. Also ask them about vacancies and hiring criteria.
- Make a nice LinkedIn profile, follow people who are/have pursued industrial training and HRs of desired organizations, join groups meant for sharing relevant vacancies on LinkedIn to be updated with requirements.
- Make sure you complete your ITT and GMCS trainings in a little advance if you desire to go for industrial training.
- I came across this document beautifully compiled by a connection on LinkedIn which has a list of all organizations that offer industrial training profiles, HR contact details and interview questions. Sharing it for quick reference -
- Important - Do not take up Industrial training in a specific company/department without talking to someone who has worked in the very same organization and team and knowing their experience. Many organizations try to make the job-profile appear very appealing but the actual work is nowhere close!
4. How to make a decision?
This is purely a personal opinion but hope it gives a perspective to everyone who is having a hard time deciding -
I think if one has completed a good deal (around 80%) of coaching beforehand and has no major backlogs with respect to incomplete notes and missed lectures (in case of self-study - 80% syllabus coverage), one can think of opting in with a decent 3-4 months leave. All you have to do is - plan very well beforehand and take extra efforts to compensate for the less time. Start studying dedicatedly in a little advance than your peers. A little extra sacrifice of parties and trips would definitely go a long way!
The popular question - How to make a trade off between getting extra leaves and securing a rank vs taking up industrial training with less leaves and compromising with a good result/rank?
Answer - If someone would have given me an assurance/guarantee of getting a rank with a 5-5.5 months leave, I would have definitely traded industrial training for the same :P
On a serious note - It is not impossible to get a rank with less leaves and a lot of people have done this provided you plan things well and take that extra mile to execute. Nothing is guaranteed and never miss an opportunity to explore/experience as much as you can!
5. My personal experience as an Industrial trainee
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to work as a CA Industrial Trainee with Mondelez International (Former Cadbury India) in the Corporate Finance - Supply chain finance - Forex team with a study leave of 3.5 -4 months.
I managed to get an excellent insight into the corporate culture and organization structure which has helping me to a great extent in making appropriate career decision. I got to know a lot of people, build connects with them and have some of them as mentors throughout. My biggest learning from this has been prioritizing and balancing multiple things at once. I do not regret even a part of my decision to take this up.
In a nutshell - every great experience comes with a cost and its up to yourself whether you want to pay the price for it and earn the rewards!
Hope this helps! :)