Pushing boundaries: Bridging the gap between classroom and the real-world

theaccablog —  July 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

With the job market becoming more competitive and employers increasingly valuing practical work experience, an internship may be the fastest way to securing a full-time job in the future.

We want to ensure that our students not only have the opportunity to gain useful working experience, but that they are also exposed to real-life situations that will allow them to push their boundaries and discover more about their strengths and weaknesses.

Pushing Boundaries

If you are looking to gain a better understanding of real working environments, you can get a sneak peek below as Ng Shi Kang, one of interns in last year’s programme, shares more about his experience.

Ng Shi Kang

Intern from the 2014 Internship Programme, Ng Shi Kang

You managed to secure a three-month internship at one of the leading local banks. How was that experience for you? Was the internship what you expected it to be and why? In a nutshell, what were the three key learning points for you?

Working in a big corporation was an eye-opener for me. In a big company, it is likely that they would be using software and systems for many of their processes. My department was having a few short presentations to introduce these systems to their new staff, and I was fortunate to have had the chance to attend these presentations. I am glad to have been exposed to the systems they were using for accounting and reporting. Even the smallest parts of these systems were managed carefully by a group of people, and it was humbling to find out for myself the complexity of these financial systems.

The internship was exactly what I expected out of it. Having never worked in an office before, I was very happy to have had this experience. The colleagues I met were all very kind and open to sharing their knowledge with me. I learnt a lot from this experience.

Since my internship was with the department which takes care of the financial systems, my key takeaways from this job experience were mostly system-related. There, I learnt more about the in-built work flows, the delegation of authority and project scheduling. Before this internship, I never had the opportunity to interact with corporate-level systems. Through this internship, I was actually working right at the heart of all these systems and was able to find out a lot more about them.

What did a typical day look like for you, and were there any aspects of the job that you particularly enjoyed doing?

I helped out in their system upgrade of SAP, so during the day I mostly tested if the upgraded system was functioning up to standards. If I encountered any problems, I’d bring it up to my superior and she would explain how it was supposed to work and how it can be resolved. Through these troubleshooting, I was able to obtain an even deeper understanding of the system we were using. It was particularly satisfying to see a problem solved and also to test the new system using my own transactions in the virtual testing region created based on past data.

Occasionally, queries would come in from other departments if they encountered system errors, and this helped me to understand the areas in which end-users encountered the most problems. Helping them solve their problems was also very interesting.

Were there ample opportunities for you to apply what you learnt in the textbook/classroom to real life working situations? What was that experience like and how did you cope with the challenges/difficulties etc?

Before I started working, I already knew there was much for me to learn. But when I started my internship and started looking at all the systems they were using, it was then that I realised that the corporate world was a lot more complex than it seemed. Everyone had very specialised roles, so they knew what they were supposed to do in great detail. Unlike in textbooks where you get to see the big picture, details become very important in the workplace. Every step of every process in the system was carefully engineered and tested thoroughly. I was lacking very much in terms of technical knowledge, but I am thankful that my superiors were always understanding and willing to spare me their time.

How did the knowledge gained from the ACCA qualification help you in your internship, and was it useful?

In ACCA I was learning about audit, and the controls became very apparent as I worked with the systems. Passwords were changed frequently, and expenses were approved by multiple people holding various levels of authorisation. Learning about these internal controls in my audit classes helped me to appreciate the motivations behind coding the authorisation flows and data security functions a lot better.

In addition to acquiring working experience, what other skills did you pick up along the way and how will these newly acquired skills help you in your career development?

I believe that my knowledge in the financial systems will help me greatly in my understanding of how businesses function, and how they can go wrong. Moreover, I have acquired technical skills involved in using the system for day-to-day transactions which I believe will be useful if I do become an end-user myself.

A meaningful internship is one that enhances your educational experience and career development. Did the internship help to cement your career goals or have these somewhat changed since your internship?

Overall, I feel that internships are about exposure, and my internship has really allowed me to be exposed to a part of corporations I think many are unlikely to enter without great financial or computing backgrounds. Hence, I found my internship especially rewarding.

Internships do help greatly in exposing one to the various specialised functions in a company, and my recent work experience has only reinforced this opinion of mine. I strongly believe that internships are an essential component to any student’s education, and I am thankful for having had this opportunity.

** We thank Shi Kang for giving us a behind the scenes look into his life of an intern and wish him the best in his career aspirations.  

If you are like Shi Kang and have never worked before, the ACCA Singapore Internship Programme 2015/2016 is an ideal starting point for you to gain some work experience.

The Programme will be administered by us at ACCA Singapore and supported by our network of Approved Employers (Gold and Platinum Approved) and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).

Applications will close on Friday, 31 July 2015.

To apply, please submit your application online now.

Keep those applications coming in!

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