There is a big deciding factor for students who wish to pursue degrees in accounting and finance which is exam exemptions from professional accountancy bodies. When researching her CAO options, Denisa Mihalute found that graduates of the BA (Honours) in Accounting and Finance at NCI could apply for generous exemptions from the examinations of professional accountancy bodies, such as Chartered Accountants Ireland, upon completion of the course.
After further research, she also discovered that she could complete a one-year work placement as part of her degree, meaning she would be leaving college with industry experience and could start her career with a distinct advantage over the majority of other graduates.
If you’re wondering what studying accounting and finance at NCI and the work placement option looks like, Denisa’s insights will be invaluable to you. Keep reading to learn more about her and what to expect if you decide to follow a similar study route.
1. Why did you choose to study the BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance at NCI?
When I was in sixth year and filling out my CAO, I knew I would choose an Accounting and Finance course. Accounting has always interested and appealed to me.
Between the few Accounting and Finance courses offered by other colleges, the course at NCI seemed to be different. The smaller class size was a big pro for me as it means more direct contact with lecturers without the overwhelming feeling of sitting in a massive lecture hall with hundreds of students. Another advantage of the BA (Honours) in Accounting and Finance at NCI was the possibility to get all the CAP1 exemptions for the professional Chartered Accountants exams*. When starting on a graduate programme, this is a massive benefit as it reduces the number of exams I would need to sit.
*See the 'Professional Recognition' tab on the course page for more information on the exam exemptions.
2. Can you share some insights into studying Accounting and Finance at NCI?
Although accounting and finance can sound intimidating at first, the lecturers at NCI have always been extremely supportive and provided as much help as possible.
In my first and second year of college I studied Financial Accounting, which I used daily in my placement role. Topics such as accounting concepts and accounting techniques came up in many aspects of my work. The module offered me a greater understanding of financial accounting, which is very useful when preparing financial statements. I feel it was very beneficial to come into my work placement with prior knowledge of the topics discussed. It meant I could assist in more advanced work from the start and I could apply what I learned in college to my work.
I was delighted to have been placed on the Academic Honour Roll for the academic year 2021/2022. I am so grateful for this award and am very appreciative for this recognition.
Thank you National College of Ireland for the support and opportunity offered!
Another module that I studied during my first year at NCI was ICT. This module taught us Microsoft Excel skills which I used every day on my placement. We learned many shortcuts in this module that made my work easier to complete and meant it could be done efficiently. I used Excel daily in my placement and I was grateful to go into my placement with some experience using this tool.
In my second year of college, we studied Taxation. This was very helpful in my work placement as having previous knowledge of tax meant that when preparing tax computations or calculating corporation tax, I was familiar with the rules and procedures. Since I was working on a variety of different sections and audits, I applied more and more of the topics studied in college during my work placement.
It has been very interesting to bring what we have studied to real-life situations.
3. You completed your work placement with Grant Thornton recently. Tell us about your experience working at Grant Thornton and what you learned as a result of your placement.
My work placement at Grant Thornton has been an incredible eye-opening experience. Having studied at NCI, I went into the placement with some knowledge in accounting. I worked in the Corporate Audit department, which was an areas I wasn’t familiar however, we received plenty of training which helped understand the basics of audit. Over the twelve months, we received more training in professional and personal development topics.
My main role as a Co-operative Student was to assist my colleagues on the engagement team with the audit work they were completing. I also had many of my own responsibilities. As I learned more about the process of auditing during the work placement, I worked on many different parts of the audit. Every day was different. I went on six stocktakes where I was the Grant Thornton representative present.
What an incredible experience it has been at Grant Thornton!
I finished my placement with clear direction and goals. I learned and improved on many skills, both professional and personal.
During the busy audit season, I was placed on the hotel’s engagement team. This was a relatively small team so I had the opportunity to work more closely with my colleagues and learn about the process of auditing a hotel. As the pandemic has heavily affected the hospitality sector, it was interesting to see the impact on this type of businesses. I was usually assigned work daily by either a senior or an assistant manager on the engagement team. The engagement team regularly met up and we discussed what was needed to be completed during the audit and we shared any updates. Communication is a very important skill to have while on an audit as it is important to share your findings with your team and discuss matters regarding the audit.
Grant Thornton also offered us training on the job and I was regularly assigned training courses to complete. These training courses varied from audit-based training to personal and professional development. We also received regular cyber security training. These courses were either self-guided or were led by someone experienced in the respective field. Regularly participating in these training modules was very beneficial in my professional development as they offered us many techniques and procedures that we could apply in our work. It also allowed us to develop our personal and leadership skills.
4. Do you have any advice for someone who is considering their CAO options?
My advice for someone considering their CAO options is to take the time and research each course you are interested in. There are many resources online to do this. You could also reach out to people currently studying the course you may be interested in and get their opinion and they can share their experiences. It is also important to fill out the level 5/6 section as well to give yourself more options. Attending college open days gives you a good insight into the college and you can get a feel of student life there.
5. Finally, what’s next for you and your career?
Currently, I plan to return to Grant Thornton post my college degree and begin my Chartered Accountants Qualification. As I have CAP1 exam exemptions from my degree, there will be less exams I will have to sit to complete my professional qualification.
I am not sure what I will choose to do after I receive my professional qualification but look forward to what opportunities will be presented to me and will have NCI and Grant Thornton to thank for their support along the way.
Denisa is studying the BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance at National College of Ireland. Visit our events page to register for one of our upcoming CAO Open Days to see if choosing NCI is right for you!