If you've undertaken work experience or a graduate program in a professional firm, you’ll know there’s a big difference between life on campus and what’s required when you start work in the real world. Here’s how to make the transition from student to a full-time tax professional as easy and pain-free as possible.
What to expect
Your first job is an essential step in shaping your career journey. Each new experience offers an opportunity to learn, build practical skills, establish rapport with your team members and expand your knowledge of taxation. So try to pick up as much as you can by asking questions and seeking assistance as you need it. Your new colleagues will be much happier to help you learn the right way from the outset than fix problems later.
In a graduate or entry-level role, you’ll most likely be given a variety of tasks to perform. Depending on the organisation, this could range from carrying out research to practical tasks like preparing tax returns and business statements. In addition, there could be formal training, workplace mentoring or coaching by senior staff, as well as opportunities to attend client meetings and industry events. Use these experiences as an opportunity to gain a firm grounding in best practice for preparing work, building communication skills and understanding business etiquette and due diligence.
How to behave
In the early stages of a new job you’re continuing to prove your worth to the company. Make sure you prepare your work carefully, adhere to processes and ask questions if you’re not sure. Remember that the early stages of your career are about learning to work as part of a team, so be flexible and see your colleagues and your manager as people to assist in achieving a common goal. Even if the work doesn't initially meet your expectations, your efforts will be rewarded and you’ll quickly learn about the company’s clients and business, which will hopefully lead to opportunities for progression. Don't forget that networking is an important part of a career. Read more about the do's and don'ts of networking as a graduate.
Client management – learn from others
When you have the chance to attend meetings, use these experiences to learn from your colleagues. Observe how they explain issues to clients, manage expectations, set clients at ease and solve problems.
Keep studying and stay up to date
A solid technical base and knowledge of tax law will help you progress your career and distinguish you from others in your field. Formal training programs offered by The Tax Institute and other professional bodies, combined with on-the-job training are invaluable to young professionals. It’s also important to keep up with developments in the sector – tax is a specialised area and one that’s often subject to changes in law and practice, so continuous reading is required to stay up to date.
Making a successful transition from university life to the workplace is all about being prepared, taking the time to understand the experiences of others in the industry, getting to know more about the organisation and treating each opportunity and task as one to learn from.
Looking for that competitive edge? Look into completing The Tax Institute’s Programs, Single Subjects or Short-Courses.