Well I studied French and Law at Maynooth University but by the time I finished, I knew I didn’t want to become a solicitor or barrister which meant a panic set in.
Then I was looking at jobs and this tax trainee role came up in a small boutique firm. I thought it sounded like something I wanted to do. So I applied, went to Dublin for my big interview, and I got the job and stayed there to do my training before moving to Mazars! The rest is history now, as they say.
I think I was surprised by the different things that were landing on my desk from the start. I thought being a ‘trainee’ I wouldn't get to see or do much, but I was given my own client allocation (working with managers on them obviously). It felt like I was integral to the business, to the job and to the work that was involved. I remember being happy about that because before I started I was thinking “oh I hope there's not too much photocopying time”.
I was also lucky in terms of getting brought to client meetings and having that face time with clients. It’s definitely one misconception that the students I talk to have – they think of tax as just number crunching with no client-facing work, which isn’t the case. Or it wasn’t for me anyway.
You come from a university where everything is mainly theory-based, but the practicality of the CTA course was excellent. It was on the ground in terms of what you were doing at work or what you could be doing in the future. So, I could see that it was real life and wasn’t another exam I had to pass. Even today, I will pull out my student manuals to get information on a topic - tax is quite a big subject!
Starting the CTA programme right after college meant that I was in the rhythm of studying so it made it a little easier. You do have to make slight sacrifices, as in you won’t be going on a holiday a week before exams! In my experience, you just get more organised in terms of what you plan and how you plan things. I managed to get a trip to Dubai two years in a row when I was completing Part 1 and Part 2. You can still have your cake and eat it, to a certain extent.
With work now, there are times of the year when you do need to go the extra mile, especially around tax deadlines. But I do get out for my walks in the evening and now as we begin getting back to normal it’s lovely to meet people in the evenings again! Mazars is great for the workday ending at a certain time. They organise different events at 5.30/6.00pm to encourage you to log off.
If you're looking for a challenging but dynamic career, then yes, I would recommend it. I think the course gives you such a good grounding for whatever area of tax you're going into.