Brain Food: How To Get Ahead in - Accountancy

1 Ambitious undergraduates should apply to the 'Big Four' - Ernst & Young, PwC, KPMG and Deloitte & Touche - for a training contract. Pick the firm whose personality best suits your own.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

2 You don't have to be a graduate. Students with good A-levels can start as accounting technicians, then study for qualification.

3 If a graduate, treat your training period as an opportunity to learn about business, rather than an extension of university social life.

4 Decide your specialism (eg, audit, taxation) early on, and whether you wish to move into a practice, business, banking or the public sector.

5 You need to be bright and at ease with numbers, but you won't get far without being a good communicator.

6 Accept secondments to build business experience. Work hard and socialise. You must be at ease with colleagues when under pressure.

7 Fine technical skills and making the right people aware of them get you to the top fast. Exceptional accountants can make partner by 29.

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