Becoming a Professional Accountant
The Accountant met up with Roberta Camilleri, a senior member of the external audit team at RSM, to talk about her personal experience of transitioning from being a University student to becoming a young professional and her experiences so far.
Q: When did you decide to become an auditor?
A: That decision was taken early on in my life. During my secondary school education, we were asked to choose the subjects we wanted to focus on, and accounts was the first on my list. The more I studied accounts, the more I liked it and subsequently continued to study the subject at an advanced level, together with economics. At this point, I made up my mind to pursue a career in accounting and auditing. Every decision brings on a flurry of other considerations. So the next question was then ‘How do I become an accountant?’
Q: What were your considerations at that stage?
A: I consulted individuals pursuing a University degree as well as others who had decided to study for the ACCA qualification. Taking everything into consideration, I opted to read for the Bachelor’s degree at University. I wanted to have a full student experience on campus and I knew that the course would provide exposure to other complementary areas of study. I graduated in Accountancy and Insurance two years later, following which I obtained a Masters in Accountancy.
Q: How did you prepare yourself for the professional world?
A: During my University studies, I worked as a summer intern at RSM. I wanted to obtain a first-hand experience of what it means to be an accountant or an auditor and this opportunity provided me with practical insights. It also complimented my studies because I could understand better similar scenarios encountered in my studies. I would recommend internships to all students.
It was during my internship that I was first introduced to auditing. The idea of analysing a company’s financial situation, understanding the whole financial reporting process and providing valuable advice to the client appealed to me immediately. As a result, I chose this area as the basis for my dissertation and attained the Best Dissertation in External Auditing award from the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy for my dissertation titled Audit Quality Attributes: Perceptions within the Local Scenario. Little did I know that my first internship experience at RSM would shape my career for many years to come.
Q: How are you intending to develop your experience further?
A: I have now been in full-time employment for just over a year and I am currently preparing myself to obtain the CPA warrant as a full-time accountant as well as the auditor’s warrant. The transition from being a full-time student to a full-time employee takes some time to get used to, however, thanks to the internship and training provided by RSM, I was able to adjust to my new life fairly well. My colleagues are a source of inspiration, invaluable guidance and mentoring.
Q: Do you find your career to be fulfilling so far?
A: Audit exposes me to different clients operating within different industries which in turn bring you in contact with different environments, scenarios as well challenges. This can only add to my knowledge and provides a strong source of fulfilment and satisfaction.
Q: What is your advice to other students?
A: Never give up and always keep pushing forward even though the workload and pressure may seem to be too much at times. Furthermore, through experience, I found that surrounding yourself with the right people, both in the academic and professional world, will help you grow and shifts your focus towards achieving your own goals as well as those of your team.