Chinese New Year, New Career?

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As Chinese New Year is marked all over the world today, we begin reflecting on the year gone by.

Many people look to the Chinese New Year as an opportunity to start afresh, and to take on a whole new challenge having missed out on the New Year resolutions made a month earlier.

Changing direction is exhilarating, but it can be daunting. It helps to hear from those who’ve been there and come out the other side happier, more successful and content in their work. AAT member Matej Kangyar and AAT tutor Claire Rulton (pictured above) both made significant changes to their lives and careers (Tea Science is certainly about as far away from accounting as anything we can imagine!). They share their stories and tips on how to make it happen for you.

“Have a plan and try it out first”

Claire Rulton

I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had as my first career. I worked as a tea scientist for Unilever who make PG Tips and Lipton Iced Tea. Tea Science sounds like a really odd niche thing but there were about 40 people doing it! I was able to work and study a chemistry degree on day release, with the company paying all my study fees, a pretty sweet deal that not many 18 year olds get. However, as time went on I realised more and more that it just wasn’t for me. I’m a very logical person and most of the job was research, and searching for new ideas, not logical at all. I was very good at maths at school and decided to start looking into accounting and finance. I planned very carefully how I was going to transition, and would recommend doing that to anyone.

Soon after I got my first accounting role with Land Rover. It was the beginning of many great opportunities that came my way as the result of taking the plunge. Even though Land Rover is a big company, the accounts team only had three people in total so I was able to take on a variety of work and responsibilities straight away and I progressed quickly. Another amazing opportunity was going to work for the Duke of Bedford. I worked on the accounts for the safari park, golf course and hotel. My days involved taking elephants for a walk, looking after horses on the stud farm, I got to ride the Tiger Moth airplane – it was like no other accounting role! Once I had children I set up my own practice and now teach AAT, I wanted my job to work around the kids and also to give something back after all the great opportunities I have had.

AAT is ideal for anyone looking to change career, as the modular structure allows you to try it out. I would advise anyone thinking of changing career to not quit your job right away- try the Level 1, many colleges offer AAT modules so you don’t have to sign up for a year. That way you have nothing to lose, you gain a certificate at the end of it, and you get a taste of whether it’s really right for you.

Matej Kangya

53726“Do your research and put in the hours”

I came to England from Slovakia, and like many young people I did so to try something new and find my independence.

For a few years I was working as a warehouse operative, and was also signed to semi-professional ice hockey team Sheffield Steeldogs after successfully trialling with them. The majority of our team squad were young men studying at university and 90% were still living with parents. It wasn’t long before I made decision that this career wasn’t something I could do as a full time job. I told my sponsor and coach that I was going to leave. Then I decided to further my studies in accounting and I started to do some online research on what qualifications and roles I could gain. Wakefield College provide AAT courses so I went for it.

This meant my lifestyle changed completely. From working during the week I had to change to the weekend shifts so I could attend classes on evenings during the week. My employer at the time didn’t support me in studies as accounting wasn’t really related to my job role as forklift driver. I had to take a second job as van driver to fund my studies. Overall I was working around 50-55 hours a week and studying on evenings. It was not easy but not impossible either, and was certainly worthwhile. Just before I finished Level 2 I left my second job because I had earned enough money to pay for Level 1 and Level 2. Then it was time to try to write the perfect CV and prepare for interviews.

AAT’s website offers lots of valuable guides and tips for this and I have to say this was my main source of information. I applied for Payroll Administrator position in the same company I was previously working with. The interview went really well and they offered me a job with study support as well. I started in this position in January 2015 and by end of the November I became Finance Assistant.

If you are looking to change your career path, AAT is a great place to start as its well recognised in finance and accounting industry and I found all levels very useful. When you think about how many decades of accounting evolution, business advices and strategy you can gain knowledge of in three years, it is really priceless when time is of the essence and you’re looking to progress quickly. And yes, while it requires a lot of dedication you can make it work around your life and schedule.

Kayleigh Ziolo is a freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland.

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