Following a successful 8-week summer internship last year, Hasnat joined the NAO as an Assistant Auditor on the ACA Chartered Accountancy Training Scheme shortly after graduating from Aston University. Here he shares his experiences and tips with you.
What attracted you to the internship and the NAO?
Prior to applying to the NAO, I had never heard of them. And considering their importance and value to the country I couldn’t believe I haven’t heard of them sooner! Once I started to research into the company and the role it seemed a perfect fit for someone like me. Being a second-generation immigrant and being the first generation to go to university, the work the NAO does was incredibly attractive to me. I’ve always pondered about how the Government spends their money and how well it ties in with societal needs. That then brings me to my second point. The VFM (Value-for-Money) work that is done tackles that question directly and is something only the NAO can provide. Ultimately, we want to find out whether the government considers wider factors to ensure appropriate allocation of tax-payer money.
What did the application process involve?
A very clear and transparent process throughout. All steps are highlighted on the website with tips on what to cover. The application process is not here to catch you out but to truly understand who you are. It was one of the most enjoyable application processes I have been a part of as I felt incredible warmth from my first interaction. From your initial application to your final assessment centre, it allows for the applicant to truly express themselves in all aspects. All disciplines are considered, and it is amazing to work alongside such a diverse group.
What did you learn from the internship?
I believe I have taken in so much more than just practical work experience and becoming familiarised with more technical procedures. I found a place where I can develop not only my professional development but my character. It was from this internship that I found out that your working environment is just as, if not more important than any sort of remuneration package offered (however, NAO graduates enjoy one of the highest level of benefits in the sector).
What would be your top three tips for graduates applying for jobs?
- If you aim to work towards any sort of professional accreditations, ensure the company has a schedule that suits you.
- Make sure you understand how flexible the company can be. This may not be really high on your priority list, but it is best to understand how the company can support you in the event of any unforeseen events.
- Finally, but I would say most importantly is that make sure you really love what the company does and stands for. You want to go into work looking forward to it and know that the work you are doing is enjoyable and worthwhile.
What is the company culture like?
I am extremely grateful for the immense support provided by the NAO. Not only in terms of work commitments but an environment which is very open and caring. I can come into work every day knowing that I am free to be myself and ask questions openly without judgement. Something which I really like about the environment is that no one asserts dominance over others based on their grade. Grades are in place, so you are aware of who to approach if you need to raise anything. This ultimately provides the ideal environment for a recent graduate or school leaver to thrive in and transition seamlessly to the world of work.