Student perspective - Andrew
I knew from my discussions with friends that I wasn't interested in working for a 'Big Four' firm, as I felt I'd be too narrowly focused, and I wanted a bit more variety in my client base. I discovered SWAT UK through graduate recruitment materials and they were recruiting on behalf of a number of smaller firms that sounded interesting. I went to an assessment day and the process was professional yet friendly, so I knew I was in good hands.
One of the main challenges is juggling the pressures of exam revision with learning new skills in client offices on 'real' work. Perfectly possible but a bit of a change from exams at school and university!
It's been fantastic to have a group of others on SWAT UK training contracts to study alongside. At some small or medium-sized firms, you risk missing out on some of the social aspects of training with many others, but SWAT UK provided us with a network of peers with whom to learn at college and share experiences.
Work has been very varied so far. One of the joys of being a junior is that I've been booked on a wide range of different clients - I've worked for charities, films and investment companies, and have been on client engagements almost from day one. Even when there's a quieter week where I may not be so busy, I know there's something else around the corner.
I was a bit nervous the first time I'd had to visit a client on my own, but now it's become second nature.
What I'm enjoying the most about my firm is how sociable everyone is. We frequently spend a week or more auditing a client in small groups, so you quickly get to know your colleagues. It's quite satisfying to finish a Friday of work and have a drink with the team and relax!
I'd say that the most important factor is not to worry about your current level (or lack) of experience. I didn't really know anything about accounting when I started, but the combination of college learning, on-the-job experience and SWAT UK training got me from 0-60 in no time at all.