My Journey Clearing CA Exams in the First Attempt with Articles at Big 4 EY
Can you clear CA Final exams in the first attempt while doing your articles from a Big 4 like EY?
In fact: In this article, Linet D’souza shares with us her journey becoming a CA and her strategy of clearing CA Final in the first attempt.
She is a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India).
Linet is presently an Assistant Manager at Citibank India.
You can connect with Linet on LinkedIn at - Linet D’souza.
How Did I Decide to Become a CA?
Amidst deciding to be a computer engineer, a doctor, a psychiatrist, I thought of finally settling down on Chartered Accountancy (CA) and following my sister’s footsteps (No, she doesn’t hate me- In fact, she warned me against it! :)
With CA, I picked the CA Factory – Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics (NM College), Mumbai to pursue my graduation.
Juggling the strict attendance rules and the hectic work life of a Big 4 (EY) felt impossible in the beginning. But it helped me to shape my personality and make me a stronger and confident person.
Clearing CA Exams in the First Attempt with Articles at Big 4 EY
Articleship in Big 4 proved a huge learning experience and I learned precious lessons here.
It made me an optimistic person
- Articleship has taught me to concentrate on the positive parts of life and situations.
- I used to hate the things I was doing. But every time that happened, I realized that whatever I was doing was for my own good.
- Never Complaints - It makes things more difficult for you.
Learn to speak up
- Don’t accept things as they are. Always be assertive and curious.
- The quality of being curious helped me learn something new every day.
Understand the scope of opportunities for CA
- What’s the first thing before starting your articleship in a Big 4 or anywhere? Figuring out which arena you want to enter in your future. I say this because it helps you pick your job post qualifying as a CA.
- If you don’t know which area you want to enter before starting your articleship for the first 1.5 year - Then experiment and explore and decide which area you want to specialize in.
- You could also opt for Industrial Training, but here study leave can be an issue, so decide wisely.
- It’s not easy deciding what you want at the age of 18-19. But you have to realize how to live with your decision, how to accept your mistakes and work towards a solution.
- Don’t like what you pick/what you are doing? figure out what is going wrong for you and work towards what it is that you want to do.
Articleship at a Big 4 Accounting Firm – EY
Everybody will tell you that working in a Big 4 is hectic (including me!). but It will help you to understand the corporate life and opens doors when you clear the exam.
Leaves are not an issue in a Big 4 because of a well-defined – Intern Policy. If you think that you won’t get leaves for your study then let me tell you it’s not true!
My study leave started in Dec’16 for May’17 attempt, that’s good enough!
If you are taking a number of attempts to clear the exam and want leave every second month - then that could be an issue.
One problem you can face in a Big 4 is – Stuck with one job role. If you’re lucky you do get to move around a little but you have to be assertive and ask. So learn to speak up and ask if you want to move internally.
Be a good performer and show the company your worth!
How Did I Manage Studies and Articleship at Big 4?
- Articleship drama, college life, everything falls into place, one thing at a time but the most difficult journey is the one you go through during your study leave.
- The transit from attending articleship daily to suddenly studying the entire day could be tough. But you have to deal with it and get into the study mood (if that’s what you call it!).
- One way could be – To start studying regularly at least 5 to 6 months before your proper study leave. This will help you get into the flow of things when your leave starts.
- Maybe you feel alone and stressed out to the point where you simply stop caring or you just want to pull out your hair. :)
- I went on leave from Dec’16 for my May’17 attempt and I decided that I’m doing this just once, so I had to give it my all.
- I shut myself from everything around me. I would study in a library, not talk to a lot of people, not touch my phone (Zero social media activity). Study was my first (and only) priority.
- I often told myself – Don’t care about the result. You can’t change it. But if the screen reads FAIL, it shouldn’t be because you didn’t study enough. Period. This was my sole motto of studying.
- The day of your result makes everything worth it – All the lack of sleep, all the missed opportunities and sacrificing social lives feels like nothing when your screen reads PASS and you know you never have to go through all this again.
My Personal Lessons That I Learned During EY Internship
- What CA teaches you – It teaches you to work hard. It makes you realize that all good things in life take time. Be determined to achieve it.
- There will be multiple times when you will think of giving up, of packing your bags and just doing an MBA instead. I know the feeling as I did the same but the one thing that kept me going was realizing – How bad I wanted this.
- I wasn’t studying to prove anything to anyone.
- I wasn’t studying to make my parents proud – they are proud of me no matter what. I was doing it for MYSELF, to push myself to an extreme and be rewarded for it.
- And this selfish desire kept me going and helped me study for 15-16 hours a day.
- Today, having achieved this milestone in my life, I believe I can achieve more and will not stop until I succeed at the next big step
- Apart from the crazy study and work days – I made some amazing friends along the way. I had some great learning and have amazing memories for a lifetime.
BONUS: Read Articleship Advice at Big 4 - EY Careers
“I had almost decided to delay my attempt by six months as I did not want to lose the tag of a 1st attempt Chartered Accountant.
I was feeling that it was impossible for me to crack the exams and enjoy my sister’s wedding in 4 months’ time.
Luckily I gave my best and cleared my exams."
“The biggest advantage of working at a Big 4 Accounting firm (in my case EY) is that you will become good at managing things - You have to manage college, office, coaching, and study.
Working hours can vary from time to time.
There will be days when you can leave at 6 pm and some days you will have to sit even till 3 am to meet the deadlines.
“I completed my articleship at my Dad’s Chartered Accounting firm in Mumbai (India).
The work that I did during my articleship was a lot more varied than someone in a Big 4 would do. I was very skeptical about getting placed into a Big 4 once I became a qualified Chartered Accountant.
During the CA campus placements, I got shortlisted by PwC, Mumbai (Corporate Tax) and was selected to join the tax team.
I assume they appreciated the work I did during my articleship because I got a job offer on the very same day! So big Accounting firm or small firm doesn't matter. Just keep learning.”
"I cleared the exams in my first attempt but missed out on rank and got rejected from a Big 4 when applying for articleship. I did not know why was I rejected.
It felt like nothing in life could be more devastating than not having secured a ‘prestigious’ articleship.
I was sad and upset but I decided – To become my own hero and I did so – I did my articleship from a mid-size firm in Kolkata"
Read My Journey To Self Confidence, From Kolkata To US
Now It’s Your Turn!