It is very sad and disappointing when students approach me and ask whether they should do proper articleship in a CA firm or should they take a dummy. This sadness comes from the very fact that our Institute at the time of envisioning about this great profession would have never imagined that students would ever ask this kind of questions or for that matter even think of not undergoing articleship.
It is to be seen that articleship right from time immemorial has been made mandatory for all students pursuing chartered accountancy profession. The basic tenet of this proposition was to enable a budding chartered accountant understand the nuances of law, accounts, tax and audit and therefore, become a true professional. Never ever would have our predecessors at the Institute of Chartered Accountants imagined a plight where students who have cleared chartered accountancy course could not even prepare a proper bank or cash book, which is typically the case with students who qualify as a CA and did not have had any prior articleship experience.
In my professional career of more than 14 years, which includes 3 years of articleship, I have met thousands of fresh chartered accountants. In the first fifteen minutes of any interaction, it is very easily identifiable whether that person has done his articleship, or is he/she giving some irrelevant global gyaan to cover up his inexperience, or I would rather say his/her incompetency to answer relevant questions.
Articleship during the course of chartered accountancy is extremely important as it forms the backbone of your career. A qualified chartered accountant without articleship experience is like a blunt knife, which has the power to cut anything but not enough strength. And such knives are not useful to the society and therefore, redundant over a period of time.
It is important that articleship should be seen as a tool to learn and grow whilst in the process of your journey to become a chartered accountant. I can share with you my experience when I was looking for articleship at the time of starting my career. I did my graduation from Delhi University and at that time there were not many people to guide us for good articleship firms. I am talking of the year 1999. However, through some references I tried in 3-4 good firms and finally got through a firm called RSM & Co (which later merged with PwC in 2006). During my articleship, my seniors always used to tell me one thing that the harder you work as a trainee, the brighter you would be as a chartered accountant. And I think that grooming and training we received in our articelship days really helped us become solid professionals.
Some students also ask how would they cope up with studies and classes during articleship and my answer to them always remain the same. You do not need coaching and training for all the subjects and even if you need then focus on your time management skills. It is very important for anyone to realise that CA degree is a highly respected profession not only in India but across the globe and it is therefore, important that one manages everything well.
Me and my batch mates have all attended classes, though not all and used to travel extensively during our articleship days. In fact, it was so much that almost 10-15 days in a month I was outstation and therefore, always missed my classes. However, everyone in our batch always had one thing in our mind that we have to focus on our work as well as studies and therefore, managing them together was the key. This attitude of not cribbing always helped us find time both for work and studies.
My advice to young students who pursue chartered accountancy is always do articleship honestly and with utmost seriousness. Things that you would learn in those three years would go a long way with you and would help you become a strong and respectable professional. In the short term you might find things easily achievable, however your ambition to become a through and brilliant professional might turn out to be a distant dream. After all do you want to be branded as a ‘Dummy CA’ after working so hard in clearing such difficult papers.
So think long term.
By: Nimish Goel
Nimish is a Chartered Accountant and a Company Secretary and has more than 11 years of experience. He has worked with KPMG in Europe and with PwC and E&Y in India. Nimish is the Co-Founder of Commerceshala, an initiative to help guide and mentor commerce students and help them in choosing the right career. Commerceshala also helps students in training and internships/ jobs. He can be reached on email@example.com