By AAT Comment AAT news How AAT’s branch network is broadening the horizons of AAT students 27 Oct 2014 AAT branch events bring members together to share knowledge, experience and even forge new friendships Branch events are a vital part of the AAT journey, as they bring together members from all walks of life, at all stages of study, to share their experience and knowledge. We have forty six branches across the UK, all of which hold meetings, events and updates throughout the year. In turn, this supports your studies, your career development and helps you meet and keep in touch with like-minded students and professionals. But don’t just take our word for it! We asked two AAT students to share their branch networks experiences. They told us why they believe everyone should be grasping the opportunity to attend with both hands. Amanda’s story I initially heard about branch events when AAT used to send out flyers advertising them. Now I check online and read updates about branch life in Accounting Technician magazine. Branch events serve as a reminder of why I am working hard towards qualifying and to keep working toward my career goals. What I particularly like is how friendly everyone is. It makes networking that little bit easier – the attendees are predominantly full members and I quite often find myself the only student attendee! Networking can seem daunting at the beginning but it’s a great way to keep in touch with others that work in your field and you never know when those contacts will come in handy. At a recent branch meeting, I was asked which assessment I have left to complete. I reluctantly admitted a Financial Statements pass is evading me, only to find everyone else said how hard they had all found that unit! It put my mind at ease knowing I’m not the only one and that I can overcome my doubts and pass. I would encourage all student members to attend branch meetings, it is easy to establish a good relationship with the committee members and you can request subject matters to be covered. Branch events broaden your horizons. You meet so many interesting people that all work in different aspects of finance and accountancy, you can learn a lot from conversations with other branch members as well as improving skills and broadening your overall knowledge. Plus, as a bonus it contributes towards your CPD! Training providers should always encourage students to attend. The branch meetings are a great opportunity for everyone to catch up, network, and bounce ideas or experiences off each other. They act as a great support network for students. Oliver’s story I began attending branch events in 2011. I originally heard about them through a colleague. I was seeking an update on payroll as we were working towards automatic enrolment and I wanted to improve my knowledge and understanding of what this government initiative entailed. I met some really cool people when I attended my first branch event, so I decided to look for more events held by the Sheffield branch. I then started by choosing events by topic. I have been to numerous branches to engage with the student events where some of the finer points of Level 4 modules are covered and the refresher events – you never know when lesser used knowledge can be called upon. Money Laundering and Bribery at the Nottinghamshire branch was particularly interesting. It really crystallised my understanding of ethics and how the ethical rules applied. It was good to see some real world scenarios where money laundering is a real issue, how it was identified and how the ethical principles were then applied. Becoming an accountant is a journey, whichever path into the industry that you take. Whether you are studying in the classroom, as an apprentice or by distance learning, it’s never easy. But it’s a path that has been trodden by many people before and it’s great to be around those people at branch events. Through the branches I have found the areas that I would like to go into in the future. I’ve made some great contacts, some of whom have become friends. I have also learned new and more complex things, helping me through interviews and in my voluntary position. The branches offer an opportunity to speak with people who work in a variety of industries, to hear from professionals in their field, to be motivated and to make new contacts – maybe even friends – who work in the industry we aspire to work in. I would urge every AAT student to go to one branch event. Enjoy the discussion, the banter, the snacks and then ask the question: “What did I learn tonight and how will it help me?”. I’ve found I can always answer that question, which in itself is perhaps the biggest inspiration for me to keep attending branch events. Don’t be shy, find your local branch, make contact and join in on the next meeting in your area. Got a question about branches? Why not speak to other AAT students on our Facebook page or via the AAT forums? You might also find your local AAT branch on Twitter. AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.