Braving Failures, I Moved to Ireland And Decided To Be My Own Cheerleader Starting my Career All Over
- If you quit Chartered Accountancy, are you finished? Or can you still succeed in the Finance sector?
- Hi, I am Nikhita Ramrakhiani...and I quit CA after several ups and downs.
- I moved to Ireland a few years ago and pursued a Master’s of Science in International Accounting and Finance with a 2.1 CGPA. And started my career at an Irish Bank group as a Finance Analyst and specialize in impairment reporting.
- Here is my story of How stepping out of my comfort zone and being my own cheerleader helped me start an amazing career in Ireland.
- I also included a ‘guide’ to all your study abroad queries based on my own personal experiences!
Tracing Back Roots – How I Began My Career In CA?
Since I was 16 years old, I always wanted to be an accountant. I was inspired by my grandfather who used to budget his expenses and keep accounts of his various ventures, all by himself.
I clearly remember when I was about 10 years old I naively asked him 'What he was doing and he’d say he was keeping accounts'. And as a child, I wondered what did that mean!
As I grew up, I developed a passion for Accounting and also started understanding it well. I soon knew I had a knack for it.
I started off well, with graduation in Commerce and later decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). I cleared the first two levels of Indian CA exams (CPT and IPCC) along with my college studies.
Till that point of time, I didn’t know failure existed. I had never experienced it. And there it was..awaiting me.
Soon after passing IPCC (Intermediate level), I started preparing for my Final exams. I had planned to write all 8 exams in one sitting.
With all the optimism and preparation books could offer, I took the exams only to get a 'FAIL' result...I was devastated.
I had no idea how to handle failure at that time. So like everyone else I thought about taking the exams again. I failed my CA Final exams 4 times in a row.
I had the aptitude and knowledge necessary to clear the exams, but I just couldn’t clear them.
Needless to say, it wasn't easy...especially when you grow up believing that the only thing you meant to be is an 'Accountant'.
Extra Tip: Keep your head as clear as you can and don’t hate yourself for failing. Accept failure and learn from it.
Quitting CA and Moving Abroad - Ireland
After years of studying to be a Chartered Accountant, all I had was...knowledge (because of my studies and articles) but NO Professional Qualification.
One evening I sat thinking to myself about where my life was headed. "Is CA the only path to achieve what I wanted?"
It soon dawned upon me that..all I wanted was to be a successful finance professional, not necessarily a Chartered Accountant.
So, I thought to myself, "Why not try another course and achieve my goal of being a successful finance professional?"
That is when I started doing research on doing a Master's Degree abroad. Thankfully, I found exactly what I was looking for, a course in Dublin Business School whose curriculum supported both accounting and finance.
I got accepted to Dublin Business School (DBS) in February 2017.
I was all excited but the desire to clear CA final exams and get that two coveted words 'CA' before my name was still there.
I thought to myself, 'Why not try one last time to clear the CA Final exams before leaving the country to do my masters in Dublin?' - and guess what? I failed. AGAIN.
It was a difficult decision for me to leave the country, drop my dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant in India and start afresh in a new country but I HAD TO.
And thus, started my journey in Ireland.
Changing Lanes Turned Out to Be a Blessing in Disguise
Moving to Ireland to do my Master’s in International Finance and Accounting has been the best decision I ever made.
Many people back home thought I was just going for a vacation and that I would come back in a year. However, I had already planned to settle down in Ireland, get a job and make a life for myself.
As they say, God works in mysterious ways; this was it, the path that led to a successful career. After completing my Masters successfully, I secured a job at an Irish Bank as a graduate.
Not soon after, my manager at work realized my skill set exceeded the graduate level and they offered to make me permanent.
I would like to thank the people at work who saw the potential in me and rewarded it. I also started pursuing ACCA exams (the dream of being a CA could be achieved, still) at the same time.
And you never know in future I might just give pursue Chartered Accountancy from again!
This entire journey of failure taught me one thing - Keep your goal in mind and make decisions accordingly.
My goal was NEVER to be a Chartered Accountant but it was to be a successful finance professional. Yes, having a CA qualification would be of great value, but again being miserable just for a degree would make no sense.
So follow your goal and make decisions accordingly. Life is too short to be miserable!
"Factors to be considered when studying abroad."
When I decided to do my Masters abroad, I could not decide at first where I wanted to go. I did have a few points in my mind. Here they are:
- It should be a one-year course
- The country should be safe for me to live alone
- The total expenditure including course fee and living expenses should fit within my budget (after all, the mind of an accountant always does a cost-benefit analysis in her/his head).
Ireland fits perfectly into my requirements. I made a list of all the different courses offered by the different universities there and sent my applications.
I got offers from quite a few universities. I chose Dublin Business School as the course I was looking at was focused on both finance and accounting, which is exactly what I was looking for. All other colleges had either Finance or Accounting. The cherry on the top was that we students would receive a 2-year period post our Masters to find a job.
“How did I decide which course to opt for in Ireland?”
It was not a very elaborate decision-making process. Always remember to go for the course you like, not the college with the ranking.
You will do well in the course you would like to learn. So, it doesn’t matter what ranking the Institute has (in my opinion!).
Education and knowledge should be a priority while choosing a course or college. Be sure to study what you are passionate about. That’s what I did.
The course I studied at Dublin Business School was a Masters in International Accounting and Finance was the best option for me personally and hence I went for it.
I was also under a budget and Dublin Business School fit perfectly for my needs. I had started out wanting to be a CA. Yet, I knew my dream was not lost, I just needed to reroute. So I decided to take up the Masters in Dublin.
“When should I start applying to Universities abroad?”
I started applying in February'17 for Sept'17 intake. I didn’t make any mistakes as I had a consultancy fill out the admission form for me (Thank God).
All I had to focus on was choosing the right course and college that offered it.
So if you want to join the course that starts in September, then you should start sending your applications in February and/or March. This will ensure that the visa process can start at the right time.
"Exams required to study in Ireland?"
A pass in the IELTS exam is a major requirement. Another important document you need to fill in is the 'Statement of Purpose'. You have to write about why you are eligible to study that course. You also need to hand in all your academic mark sheets.
Reference letters from your colleges and previous employers are essential too.
Do think about how you are planning to finance your education. How are you going to manage your living expenses? For visa processing, you have to ensure that your bank statement shows the prescribed amount.
If you are opting for a loan, you have to show your sanction letter for the education loan.
“What is the cost of doing a Masters in Ireland?"
The fees at Dublin Business School is around 10,000 euros. Other bigger universities charge a higher amount, say, around 18000 Euros.
Working part-time while studying in Ireland. You can absolutely work part-time – you are allowed to work 20 hours a week. You can get paid a minimum of 10 euros per hour, which should be good for your living expenses.
You can decide whether or not you want to work part-time based on your comfort level, financially and academically. Take it from me. Working part-time does give you a sense of independence in a foreign country.
Yes, I did work part-time. I waitressed to earn my living expenses. (I do know that this may sound strange to a student from India. However, it is quite common for students to work part-time here.)
Is any financial aid available? Dublin Business School does offer some scholarships. I got 1000 euros of scholarship from DBS. But one can apply for scholarships from the Government too. (I am certainly not the right person to advise you on this.)
Will my living accommodation be comfortable in Ireland? Dublin Business School provides a homestay for a price for the first month in Ireland. Usually, students continue to stay with their homestays if they are happy and comfortable. They can also team up with other college friends to look for a new place to live in.
Websites like daft.ie and various authentic accommodation groups on Facebook will be useful for this.
"Statement of Purpose and Letters of Recommendation."
A Statement of Purpose is simply a document in which you can share why you think you are eligible for this course. This document also gives you an opportunity to tell the university more about yourself and your interests.
Letter of recommendation. It should essentially ratify the qualities that you mention in the statement of purpose by a third party, like your college professors and your previous employers. They should be recommending you to the college based on your qualities in this letter.
I personally think that a combination of a finance degree with a flair in data analytics/information technology is the best. FinTech is a booming career. And it is a great opportunity for us, finance professionals.
“Is it easy to find a job in Ireland as an Expat?”
Landing a job is as much science as art.
You must have a curated CV; you must individually apply for jobs as per their requirements. There is no one CV that fits all the jobs out there; so, read, edit and edit again.
Don’t give up when you get rejection emails. Take rejection in your stride and keep sending in applications. Be consistent and take time out for applications and job searches.
At the interview stage, you must portray your skills and knowledge. Show clearly and confidently what you bring to the table.
"Is finding a job in Ireland through a graduate program good?”
A graduate program is something similar to campus placements. You must look for the correct graduate programs in different companies and make sure that your skills and knowledge match their requirements.
Generally, all graduate programs start in September and usually they conduct interviews and welcome applications twice before that. So, if you want to get into one, keep applying until they call you for an interview.
Once you are in for an interview, make sure you prepare well and give your best. Graduate programs have assessment centers wherein you go through 3 levels of the interview in one day- personal interview, case study and group discussions.
They will assess you on various aspects of their requirements. Be sure to bring your A-game and be confident.
What remuneration can I expect? I did get into a graduate program. While you start out, you can expect to earn around 30,000 euros per annum, considering inflation.
Good knowledge and skills in 'technology and finance' would be perfect for the growing Fintech market in Ireland.
“What living expenses can I expect in Ireland?”
The real estate market in Ireland is booming at the moment. Rent expense can be a lot higher than you would expect.
If you can share a room, you would pay around 400-500 euros a month and if you don’t wish to share, you have to pay around 1000 euros monthly.
If you can cook your own food, you would not need to spend much on food. Takeout can be expensive. You have to check the safe areas in Dublin before finalizing the stay.
DO NOT PAY DEPOSIT OR RENT ONLINE IN ADVANCE. Come to the country, stay in a hostel for a week, view the houses, meet the people and only then pay.
“Is the Visa process to Ireland easy?”
Getting a student visa in Ireland is not very cumbersome. You must have your offer, statement of purpose and finances in order.
You must also apply at least 8 weeks before you plan to travel as the processing times are longer for Irish student Visas during various intake time.
Wrapping it Up...
My biggest learnings came from failures. I realised dealing with failure is a skill that one cannot learn 'without' facing it.
Resilience is built with practice, never give up attitude and having the foresight to be able to change the path to your destination.
Never give up on your dreams, even if that means rerouting the path that you had set for yourself. Sometimes God’s plan is bigger than yours and it only comes into reality if you are open to accepting change.
If I were a CA in India, I would have been in India and my life would have been very different than what it is now.
Living in a new country, being financially independent and experiencing something new each day – it is exhilarating. Life gets better when you get out of your comfort zone.
Now It's Your Turn
Do you have any questions for Nikhita Ramrakhiani?
Have you considered moving to Ireland? Comment below and ask me your questions.
(Article edited by CA Uma Krishna and image by Ankit Lodhi)
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