After an opening appeared in the accounts department, Katie didn't hesitate
Despite some huge challenges along the way, her successes were exemplary
“Growing up, I had been one of these people who didn’t actually know what they wanted to do once they had left school. Although schoolwork came easily to me, no career path felt right. I feel that I took my A-Levels because I should do them rather than part of a grand plan. I opted not to go to university and instead fell into administration roles.
By late 2018, I was working as a Stock Administrator. Two of my colleagues in the accounts team announced that they would be going on maternity leave within weeks of each other. My manager then approached me with the idea of taking on some of the accounts work in that time, mainly costing work as this would tie in with my main job.”
“During this time, my manager suggested doing an AAT course to improve my knowledge. I took him up on this and in June 2019, I registered with Training Link to do AAT Level 2 Accounting. I knew that I wanted to do distance learning so I could learn at my own pace. I also knew very quickly that I had made the right decision both with the course and with the training provider. The resources presented things in a relatable way and the tutor support was excellent – everything had a professional but friendly approach to it. I had not set a target date for completion, but at the rate I was going, I was looking at taking my final exam in January 2020.”
Life can change in the blink of an eye
“However, on Saturday 23rd November 2019 – one week prior to my penultimate exam – life as I knew it changed forever.
My father was taken seriously ill in hospital having suffered a rare type of stroke. Previous thoughts of revising for an exam went towards learning complex medical terms and making three-hour round trips to visit my father in a specialist hospital. He had been my biggest cheerleader and I was going to return the favour by being there for as much of his care and therapy as possible.
Despite the poor outlook for my father’s condition, I eventually managed to sit my postponed exam in February 2020 and then focused on learning my final unit. I felt that I had a new purpose for completing my Level 2. In early March 2020, my father was placed into a nursing home and I got myself into a position where I was given the go-ahead to sit my final exam.”
How the pandemic changed everything
“I felt very much in limbo during this time as I had no idea when I could sit an exam and was not able to see my father due to the visiting restrictions for care homes. Nevertheless, I eventually passed AAT Level 2 with an overall mark of 98% Distinction in August 2020. That same week, I was also approved by the Court of Protection to be my father’s financial deputy (as he had lost capacity before a Power of Attorney could be put in place).
The next year was spent getting my father’s affairs in order. But I found I was relishing in the challenge of ensuring that my father’s finances were properly recorded on the Office of the Public Guardian’s (OPG) system. I have to send annual reports to the OPG so although their recording systems are more simplified than most accounting software packages, I had to think like a bookkeeper/accountant and keep accurate financial records and record why certain decisions had been made. For the first time I was seriously thinking about making a career change from admin to accounts. Having seen my father struck down having barely reached retirement, I wanted to make the most of my working life. I resolved to look for new employment once my personal life was more stable. My father’s health is still poor at the time of writing this, but there comes a point where you cannot live with your life constantly on hold or fearing to do things in case the worst happens. Looking for a new job would be a huge step towards acceptance of the situation and an acknowledgement that life does indeed keep moving forwards.”
The start of a new chapter
“In February 2022, I started applying for entry-level accounts roles and I started my current employment that April as an Accounts Assistant. The company knew that I had experience of costings, but my general bookkeeping knowledge was minimal. That did not stop them from throwing me in at the deep end, but I felt that helped me learn at a faster rate. Before long, I was not only logging purchase invoices and reconciling the bank, but I was moving onto processing month-end journals, putting together cash forecasts, and liaising with customers and suppliers worldwide. I found that my knowledge of reconciling stock records from my previous job helped me with trial balance issues. My experiences of fighting my father’s financial battles meant I was more effective in getting results with customers and suppliers if we had invoice queries or were chasing payments.
At the start of my employment, I made a promise to my new manager that I would study AAT Level 3 Accounting. In September 2022, just after AAT launched their new syllabus, I signed up with Training Link again. Everything was as I remembered it and it made my learning experience a lot easier even though the course was a lot harder than Level 2. My initial goal had been to pass all four exams on the first attempt. Just over 12 months after signing up, I was awarded an overall mark of 90% Distinction, having indeed passed all four exams the first time.”
What’s next for Katie…
My short-term aims are to start studying AAT Level 4 so I can take on even more responsibility in my job. Management accounting is what appeals most in the long-term, but for now I am just embracing the chances I have been given and enjoying finding my way through my new career path.
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