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Fionnán Johnson winner of the Arthur H Muir prize for the top placed candidate in Ireland for CAP1 exams

"My experience as a summer intern confirmed what I'd previously heard about the supportive environment around the firm"

My name is Fionnán Johnson and I'm about to enter the second year of my graduate training contract.

Having completed a summer internship with the firm in 2013, I was lucky to be offered a position in the Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) Department, a sub-division of the audit service line in Deloitte. As my first step towards an ACA qualification I recently completed my CAP 1 exams, where I was awarded the Arthur H Muir prize as the top placed candidate in Ireland. Before joining Deloitte, I studied Business, Economics and Social Studies in Trinity College Dublin completing my third year of the course abroad at the University of Toronto.

Why did you choose Deloitte? 

My experience as a summer intern confirmed what I'd previously heard about the supportive environment around the firm. Everyone I worked with was extremely approachable and open to all queries. I was drawn to the diverse client base Deloitte works and had the opportunity to gain a great insight into the workings of these businesses. The smaller nature of the SME engagement teams (normally about 2 or 3 people per client) also provided me with responsibility early in my career.

Why did you choose a Professional qualification?

The ACA exams as an internationally-recognised qualification presents great possibilities across all industries both domestically and internationally.

What was your biggest challenge and what did it teach you about yourself?

So far for me on the graduate program, the biggest challenge is also the most exciting challenge as I am learning to handle the level of multitasking involved. In my college course it was pretty unusual to have 2 papers due in the same week, whereas now I'm sometimes working on three, four or even five different jobs a day. Time management and being realistic about how long a task will take to complete are proving beneficial and important skills for me. I’m also learning to prioritise as it’s not possible to respond to all the jobs assigned instantaneously. Splitting time appropriately between work and studying for exams was also a challenging balance to maintain, and I imagine this challenge will increase as I assume greater responsibility in work.

How did you find your Deloitte interview, any tips?

I found my interview had a lot of open-ended questions, allowing me to put across my experience, suitability and enthusiasm for the graduate program. I was not asked many specific questions, rather just directed towards points on my CV and invited to expand on them. As for tips, I always make an effort to have a question to ask the interviewer about the job or the industry in general, such as the common challenges faced in the kind of roles. I also try and filter my CV for the relevant job application, so that almost everything on your CV could be a relevant talking point during an interview.

What advice would you have for other students and graduates seeking to pursue a similar career path?

While summer internships and previous work in the industry are obviously a big help during the application stage, I would encourage students not to feel restricted by their course choice or work experience when applying for a graduate program. I attended training with a group of around 60 graduates during my first weeks in Deloitte, many of whom were from non-accounting (such as myself) or even non-business studies backgrounds, and I felt we were all similarly prepared for our positions by the end of our first week. I feel it is the learning, social and problem-solving skills that you develop in college, rather than the course-specific knowledge, that are the key elements for successful adaption into the professional environment.

Read more about our Graduate programme in Audit & Assurance

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