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Hi, I’m Holly, a student at Keele University studying Accounting and Finance, currently on my placement year at Ashfield Healthcare Communications.

My placement as a financial accounts assistant started in June 2019. I work on the financial accounts team and also provide support to the finance project team, balancing my time so that I am able to complete all necessary tasks. Being given the opportunity to experience both sides of finance support has enabled me to widen my accounting knowledge and also advance my transferrable skills.

On a daily basis, my general everyday routine would begin with reading emails , and then deciding which tasks  need to be completed on this day – these could include anything from; auditing expenses, international payments, reconciling accounts, sign offs/contracts or time and cost transfers. However, on a month end day these tasks differ to prepayments release, fixed asset additions and subscriptions overhead analysis.

My greatest achievement since my placement began is my increase in confidence, allowing me to make a smooth transition into the team and also putting myself forward to do tasks which otherwise I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. Another standout achievement is adapting to 9-5 life, from previously being used to half a day at university!

Since COVID-19, my placement has changed significantly due to having to adapt to working from home which has resulted in me trying to find the easiest and most effective way to work around my family, so not to affect my work. The actual workload  is pretty similar to when I was working in the office, whilst also being given the opportunity to learn how to do new tasks on the finance project side; for example, tidy-ups of projects and revenue transfers. The most difficult transition at the beginning was not only the issue of having to make my own cups of tea at home, but adapting from working in the office surrounded by colleagues, to working alone. Daily finance Zoom meetings (sat in my pyjamas) allow interaction with my team, discussing what everyone is doing for the day, but is also nice to have just for the company, having people to talk with whilst working. Another form of distraction from COVID, is our weekly Friday quiz, involving all of the staff from Finance, HR and Talent at Ashfield Healthcare Communications. I think I’ve finally realised after only winning one quiz in over seven weeks, I’m no egg head and winning quizzes just isn’t me.

My advice to any finance students considering doing a placement year, would be to definitely do so. Aim to try and experience different areas of finance, not sticking with one small part of accounting. The more experience you get, the more knowledge you will have of what you want to do in the future and thus, your career. My placement year has enabled me to experience accounting of businesses in practice, implement my knowledge from university and allow me to gain a better understanding of certain processes.

Good luck with the future but for now, stay safe and stay home.

Holly Salt


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