I know for sure this question crosses the minds for a lot of students for which perhaps you would have never got any conclusive answer. So, I am not saying that now after reading this article you would get a sure shot answer, but yes you might be in a better position to judge and therefore, take a better decision.
I have shared in my previous articles on www.nimishgoel.com the three-step success formula that I have learnt and applies to all of us:
“With better awareness you can have better choices and with better choices you can get better results”
Once you know how the options are stacked, you would be in a position to take better calls in your life, leading to desired results. Obviously, if you don’t know which path to take how can you be sure whether you would reach your destination?
There are thousands of students in India who are pursuing chartered accountancy as their professional career and as we all know, passing the papers to acquire this coveted degree is a challenge. Lot of you work very hard but are still unable to pass because of a variety of reasons either known to us or to the Institute. We know our weaknesses and we keep working on them to improve but some reasons are just beyond the realm of our imagination. And the best way to get an answer to such questions is to leave them to the God.
However, what remains to be answered by us is what should we be doing during the period we are writing exams. Should we wait for one of the most respected degree and then launch ourselves into action, or should we keep working in an organization and at least get our practical exposure meter running. Indeed, a difficult question to answer especially knowing that if you work, your time to study to that extent gets reduced.
There can be no one answer to the above question, i.e., whether you should only spend time on studying and clear papers or should you keep working along with your studies. In my personal opinion if a person is unable to clear papers during the period of his/her articleship then he/she should not sit at home and spend time only studying. The moment you are out of practical exposure, that very moment you start to limit your chances of getting good jobs and better salary packages.
I am not suggesting that people who sit home and only study and clear papers don’t get good jobs or earn well, what I am trying to suggest is that by spending time only on studies and not getting practical experience will make the prospective employer look at your CV with caution.
Lets take an example here. Say, one of the BIG4s wants to hire a chartered accountant in their tax division.
They insert advertisements in a newspaper and against that receive loads of applications. In my view and basis my experience of interviewing hundreds of candidates when I was in BIG4 and also in my own consulting firm, I would look at the following features in a CV:
1. Whether the candidate is a CA or not. If not, the CV immediately goes to trash;
2. If yes, in how many attempts did he/she clear;
3. If more attempts have been taken, does he/she have work experience in tax;
4. If yes, is it a relevant work experience or something that’s only academic;
5. Which firms/ organisations has he/she worked?
Now, lets take the situation of a person who’s cleared in less attempts but doesn’t have relevant work experience vis-à-vis a candidate who may have taken more attempts to clear but has more work experience. In my humble opinion I would always want to go with the person who’s got experience in taxation over the person who hasn’t despite he/she clearing in less attempts. That’s purely because the experienced person would be in a position to start working immediately, i.e. he is far more employable than the other person. The organization would need to spend less time training him/her and therefore, he/she would be able to generate revenue for the firm right away.
Just imagine a situation where you have the degree but did not get the job only because you did not have the relevant experience. This commonly happens to students who opt for dummy articleship and don’t have enough good work experience. For more gyaan on this, you can read my article on “Whether to go for dummy articleship or not”.
I am not trying to say that a chartered accountant who’s cleared in less attempts is not employable, he definitely is. But the point I am trying to put across is that practical exposure is always better than just academic knowledge. In this competitive world where skills are short in supply, any person having the relevant skills is always preferred over the person who would need time to acquire them.
Mountains can be moved if time is managed well
Now, the question that comes in your mind is if we keep working in a firm/company whilst preparing for the exams, how do we manage both. A lot of organizations don’t give enough time to study and therefore, in order to acquire the CA degree we stop working so that we get time to study and clear the papers. And we think, this is not a bad strategy. Even I think this is not a bad strategy, but then you have to weigh the pros and cons of considering this option and if you feel that practical exposure is something you would want to take once the degree is available, you are absolutely free to think like that. But in my personal view, if one is able to manage his/her time well, mountains can be moved, let aside getting a CA degree.
Start to believe in yourself and boost yourself with thoughts of becoming a great chartered accountant, the one who is respected for his knowledge and skills and not just for his degree. Read books on time management and practice those tips with vigor and sincerity. Stop procrastinating things because the habit of procrastination is a disease. You can read my article “Kabhi to hoga matlab kabhi nahin” on how to beat procrastination. You have to start to believe that you would be able to manage both, studies and work. The thought of not clearing exams if you are working shouldn’t cross your mind at all. You have to be extremely focused and determined to make it happen for yourself. Because, “time invested in yourself will help you earn a fortune, whereas time wasted will only lead you to help others earn fortune for themselves”.
Practical tips to manage time effectively
I want to end this article with some quick practical tips on time management that are helpful to any student:
1. Don’t waste time watching TV or Facebook or WhatsApp. You will have enough time wasting on them once you have the degree;
2. Whilst studying only focus on three things – Office work, Studies/coaching and Sleeping/Eating. Don’t think about anything else for the time being and I can assure you of the wonderful results.
3. Make a list of goals you want to achieve in your life;
4. Make a plan and write it down on how you would want to achieve those goals;
5. Make a schedule for yourself each day and have the guts and commitment to finish each item in that schedule before you end your day;
6. Apply 80:20 principle in managing your daily tasks;
7. Get up early morning and study during the early hours of the day, it helps. You can read my article on the benefits of getting up early morning – “Why I joined the 5AM Club” on goo.gl/s02Wbp
8. Always use positive affirmations while driving, taking bath or commuting. Speaking to yourself in positive language helps your subconscious mind work in the right direction.
I am pretty confident that you can create and achieve a wonderful life for yourself. This is basis my personal experience of implementing all the above tips in my own life. In the end I would like to end with a beautiful quote:
“Believe in yourself and the rest will fall into place. Have faith in your abilities, work hard and there is nothing you cannot accomplish”
Wishing you the very best in life and green lights in everything you do…
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a qualified chartered accountant who’s passion is to coach young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.