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A day in the life of a working student

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Patrick O’Brien: ACCA student and full-time financial accountant at a multinational company in Ireland talks about balancing work and study, ACCA podcasts vs Spotify and what his typical day looks like.

I began my accounting career with Ernst & Young, where I worked for two years in the asset management department and gained valuable first-hand experience working on audits for large multinational hedge funds (CQS, Lansdowne Investment Partners etc). I now work in the financial reporting team for a large MNC and it was here that I started my professional accountancy exams with ACCA.

My role here is more varied than working in audit, an aspect I thoroughly enjoy. I’m involved with preparing the quarterly management reports, which is an end-to-end process from booking journals through to completing the income statements/balance sheet to finally providing a commentary on the results when I reach the other side. There are some obvious overlaps between the subjects I study at ACCA and my job, particularly corporate reporting (e.g. getting to grips with foreign exchange translations and where to book this on the balance sheet) and business analysis (e.g. identify which variances to focus on).  

Striking a balance

Given the nature of my role, I am particularly busy at the end of the quarter, I also have the added pressure of sitting exams and attending lectures, so my days can be long… very long.

Trying to balance is something I’ve had to focus on. During the lull periods when I am finished work on time, I try to front load as much study as I can, usually working through exam papers and listening to important technical articles on the ‘ACCA podcasts’. I find this helpful and would recommend this approach… though initially it was difficult to substitute Spotify for these podcasts.

Typical day

In terms of how my average day would pan out, I usually get up at 07:00 and try go for a swim for an hour, which is something I’ve had to force myself to do because my evenings are constrained by work, lectures or study. I then walk to work and listen to a podcast. When I arrive at work I eat breakfast and read emails. I’m subscribed to The Telegraph ‘City Briefing’, which provides a quick snapshot of what’s happening in the business world, some of the content I reference in my exam papers.

I finish work between 17:30 and 18:00, head home for dinner and depending on how close I am to the exams I am; either catching up with friends or burn the midnight oil studying.

In terms of where I am now with my studies, the finishing line is almost in sight. I have three exams left; I intend to sit two in the December 2015 and then the final one in March 2016.

If you are interested in being a financial accountant like Patrick, read more about the role and how you can get there

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