My answers to three important questions about the Wales Audit Office trainee scheme

As part of our graduate recruitment campaign, we asked some of our current trainees to blog about why they first applied and what life is like on the Wales Audit Office graduate programme.

Here, Sarah Liddell writes about her personal reflections.

To find out more about the scheme, and how to apply, please visit our website [opens in new window].

Why did you choose to work as an Auditor?

This is a question that I am frequently asked as many believe Auditors are a little boring, and just do the same thing every day – but I can say with certainty that this is not the case at the Wales Audit Office and it has been the best decision I made to join their Graduate Trainee Scheme!

Looking back to my time in University on the Network 75 Scheme (a work-based degree scheme), in all honesty, I never could see myself becoming an auditor as I had worked in two finance departments and experienced audits ‘from the other side’. However, towards the end of the 5 year scheme, I found that I enjoyed Audit at university and wondered what it would be like to see things from the Auditor perspective!

Why did I apply to the Wales Audit Office Graduate Scheme?

In short, what other organisation provides the opportunity to gain an internationally recognised accountancy qualification alongside hands on experience across various public-sector bodies, where the work makes a real impact on public services?

Having worked in the private sector, I realised that I wanted to feel that my work contributed to day-to-day life and the opportunity to work as an auditor where the work helps ensure public money is being spent appropriately, whilst holding public bodies to account, appealed to me, so the Wales Audit Office seemed like the perfect fit!

Now that I am in my second year, it is safe to say that time has flown by and I have enjoyed every minute of it! In that relatively short space of time I have worked on audits including the police, health bodies and local authorities, each one offering a new challenge due to the different codes of practice they follow – meaning there is always something to learn! I have also been lucky enough to be part of the Data Analytics Project, which is looking at ways technology can be used to enhance our work, so no two days are ever the same!

Not only that, I have always felt that I have been treated as an important part of a team and not merely a number! Even when I started, I felt welcomed by everyone and realised that there is an endless amount of support available and that no question would be too small. This is one of the key reasons I enjoy working at the WAO, as it doesn’t matter how busy everyone is, everyone works together to help each other out – you are never left to struggle!

As the Graduate Trainee Scheme has been in place for several years, there is a strong trainee presence in the office who all provide invaluable support to each other. We have organised a few trainee events during the past year including a Christmas Pantomime, and, of course, a trip to Paris to visit a certain famous mouse!

As I studied Accounting and Finance at University, I am yet to undertake any professional ACA exams as I received exemptions from the first-year exams! However, there is a distinct divide between work and study, which means that you can focus entirely on the exams for a good couple of months!

Would I recommend others to apply?

Absolutely! The WAO Graduate Scheme is a fantastic opportunity to gain an accountancy qualification whilst working in a friendly and supportive organisation where the work truly matters!

The variety and value of the work still never ceases to amaze me! As part of the financial statement audit, I have seen a demonstration of new Facial Recognition Technology software that is aiming to identify and catch criminals, and findings from our grant work, particularly housing benefit, can impact directly on the lives of the claimants – so our work holds true value!

In summary, I have enjoyed my experience on the scheme so far and would encourage anyone interested to apply – it could, like mine, be the best decision you make.

About the author

Sarah LidellSarah is a 2nd year trainee with the Wales Audit Office.

She graduated from the University of South Wales in 2017 after studying Accounting and Finance.

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