NAO Work Experience

Matt Cockrell

What made you apply to the NAO’s school leaver scheme?

I was doing the usual searches for apprenticeship/job opportunities online, during Year 13 at school and stumbled upon this opportunity with the NAO. The five year course and the range of benefits displayed on their application page showed me that they were very interested in the well-being of the employee and that the job wasn’t going to be a boring, mundane job, seemingly offered in other places I was researching.

Did you always know that you were going to become an auditor?

I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, other than go to university and study History/Politics. I had all my offers and I was ready to go to Warwick, but once I saw these types of opportunities, my mind set changed. The idea of earning and being financially self-sufficient at the age of 18 was pretty cool. Whilst I didn’t know a whole lot about what I was getting into at the time, I’m very glad I did, as now I have a great work/life balance, earn more than enough (and more than some of my friends from school at other big firms), and can still go out with University friends at the weekends.

What was the application process like?

The NAO’s application process is the main reason why I’m where I am. It was so fast and smooth, that I started it after I applied to other places, and got offered a job before anyone else. I accepted the job immediately, as it took the pressure off my exam results, and also it sounds really cool when you can walk around school with a (near) guarantee that you’ve got a high-paying job waiting for you in September.

What top tips would you give to potential applicants?

My top tips would be….

  • Don’t stress about any of the applications. The tests are designed to see you under pressure and inevitably get some things wrong.
  • Don’t be put off about the focus on numbers. It’s a myth that you need maths for this job. As long as you are comfortable with basic maths you will be fine. I think it is more important to turn up to the interviews confident, present yourself well, than to be an intellectual genius.
  • Lastly, don’t rush into anything. At 16-19 years old you still have ages. I went straight from school, but even if you took a gap year, or tried out University for a year and came back to something like this by 20, you’d still become a chartered accountant at 25, which is younger than most people professional jobs.

Describe a typical day at work.

I have worked on the whole of Government Accounts, including the Treasury and amongst other clients, such as the BBC all in my first year of working. This is a really cool thing to experience and it gives you such wide ranging knowledge about how the world works.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the work that I do at the moment, but the thing I most look forward to is my future prospects. Getting into this job at 18, means I should be a chartered accountant at 23 if all goes well. According to everyone I talk to, the ACA is a passport to work anywhere, so I should have no problems finding respectable jobs as a young professional. This fills me with confidence, as if I had gone to University, by the age of 23 I might have still been scratching around applying for my first job at that age.