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Life As A CA student

Hi, This one is to let everyone know how does life become when you start doing CA – one of the toughest courses ever.

If you are reading this, let me first welcome you aboard to this journey of the business corporate world. You should be proud of yourself because you have chosen to do one of the most difficult professions ever. It is going to be a journey of a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and awesome weird experiences and memories. To everyone who is just entering in articleship stage, Congratulations on clearing your IPCC exams and moving forward to the next important step – Articleship. And to others who have already been through this – I am sure you will be able to relate your three years of articleship to this article.
Articleship – the cheapest form of labour but the best learning experience. I am not being sarcastic here. It definitely does not pay you much. But let me clarify, you gain an invaluable amount of experience which is going to help you a lot in your future career endeavours.

As per the ICAI rules, you have to undergo articleship training for a period of 3 years. On completion of 2.5 years, you are eligible to give your CA final exam. In this 3 years, you will be allowed to take a leave of 1/6th period of your articleship meaning a, 156 days in your 3 years. Now a, 156 days will initially sound really good, but as and when you start working and you reach your final year you will realize that even 156 days is not enough leave to study for your CA final exams. So keeping a buffer of 120 days aside as your study leave , you have only around 36 days leave – 12 days leave a year, mind you be very careful when you opt for official leaves, because it’s going to come back and haunt you when you need to apply leave for your CA final exam.

Initially, when you will join your articleship, it’s going to be very exciting. New job, new clients, new work, new friends, too much to learn and an amazing journey waiting ahead. You are just beginning your steps in the ladder. You are just at the starting point of this journey. Irrespective of what field you choose – audit or tax – both are going to be a tough journey ahead. Right from your taxation due dates to statutory audit completion dates to internal audit reports presentation – each one will be an enriching experience. Your first year will pretty much be spent in exploring all areas. You will be curious about how things work. There will be a thirst for knowledge. A dedication and willingness to work. And most people treating you like a junior. Teaching you things along the way. I will use the word most and not all, because not everyone will treat you that way. Yes, they will teach you things but like a colleague. No junior-senior concept applicable. You are responsible for what you do – the end. A first-year article spends most of his/her time in vouching as per checklists. And yes it might be boring and redundant work but you can still find out really strong audit points from vouching as well – No approvals, non-adherence to Standard Operating procedures, verbal approvals, non-adherence to contracts and agreements, no procurement procedures followed, no tax deductions, incorrect accounting treatment, budgets exceeded etc. to everyone who thinks that no queries can be found in vouching – you have an opportunity to prove them wrong. You will see the way reviews are conducted. How there will be a lot of praise to a lot of disgrace. The atmosphere on the review day. Full of pressure and people handling all kinds of work and multitasking to finish and keep everything ready for the review. There will be an adrenaline rush of deadline completion. And when the same is done, the happiness you will achieve from the completion of the same. You just have to experience it. You will learn talking to clients. There will be all kinds of clients – some being just normal, some being friendly, some being hostile. Getting that required data and responses on queries will always be a task to which you will have to deal with very smartly. Write it in email conversations – all your data requirements and client responses, so that you are always safe on your side when something goes wrong. And keep your boss in CC – Always. They will be coming to your rescue ultimately.

Come second, year and you will be now a grown up. But first, do not hesitate to put that email of stipend increase. You deserve that Boss. It’s your rightful right to claim that. By now you will be pretty much aware, about how each team leader functions. How everyone wants things to be done in a particular way. You will be given more responsibilities – probably also allocated with a junior article under your training. You will be having a good amount of training now. This will be a time when you will start deciding about your CA final classes. What classes to join, weekend / daily batch to join. From when to join. Do a lot of research when you opt for classes. Because they will help you in your exams. However, don’t be under the impression that classes will be beneficial. They will not unless you choose to study yourself and keep getting updated on a regular basis.

By now you are going to be used to late sittings. Those checking the clock after every 30 min days. Family calling and asking up ‘beta ghar kab take aaogee. Koi Hai bhi ya nahi saath me tumhare. Zyada late hot oh train se mat aana. Cab karake aa jana’ days And especially if you stay far off from you client place. It still will be fun when you have an amazing audit team with all kinds of teammates. The always serious one, the most talkative one, the always hungry one, the always WhatsApp busy one etc. Your audit team will be your family. They will stay through each and every stage of that audit – the initial time pass stage, the too much work to do stage, the review stage, the talking to client stage, the meetings with CFO Stage and the signing stage. At the end, you are going to emerge as a different changed and stronger person than you were. You will come up with all kinds of excuses to take leaves. Most of it which will be disapproved but then that will be a major motivation to think of more creative reasons.

Come your final year of articleship and you will be feeling a total grown up. By now you will have done all major areas. You will be well versed with all various kinds of things. You will be given more responsibility. More power. With great power comes great responsibility – true that. I remember in my case, my boss handled an entire audit on my name. That taught me various things. Leadership abilities, working together as a team, getting things done from everyone, talking confidently to higher level management people. I remember initially it used to be a bit scary and nervous when you have to face a senior level person.

But as you keep working on and when you know you have done nothing wrong, you automatically get that level of confidence to stand up and smile and get the meetings done. Your final year, you will be a bit tensed about your exams. You will have to be starting your exam preparations, planning on how to go about completing all those 8 subjects. You will be blaming on why you have that ISCA subject, cursing that subject to the core. This is an important period to carefully decide on your final preparations. Believe me, you will have to learn to prioritize your work and friends and your studies. Just a matter of one year of working too hard. I am not saying to quit meeting your friends, however just learn to manage it. Time management is going to be very very important and you will have to learn to deal with it.

All the above was extremely work related. Office related. Let me tell you about other aspects of it as well. On this fruitful journey of yours, you will make a lot of new friends rather lots of new CA friends. You will join LinkedIn and even grow your professional network, you will learn networking, build some new contacts, nurturing professional relationships and increase your connections. But in this process, you will also be losing up on a lot of old friends. Especially if you have been a very social person, people will come and complain to you that you don’t have time for them. You will grow apart from certain people. Rather now will be a time when you will realize who are the people who actually truly understand you. Because your genuine friends will understand your work priorities. Yes, they might complain once, out of concern for you, but they won’t keep nagging you over the same thing again and again. You will be rude to certain people. You are going to have to. Because it will be difficult to manage them all. You are going to have to explain to them that talking frequently is not important, just know that you would be there for them if and when they need you.

Getting into relationships will be difficult. Finding a partner who will understand your situation completely will be a task. Because he/she may not like it if you prioritize your work over them. And there will be many situations when you will have to make that decision. The choice of work over them. But not all relationships are screwed up. Knowing that you have someone will always be a motivation for you. That all depends on your luck and how strong the relationship exists. Your social life might get a bit slowed down. No more late night outs, no more hangover parties. I remember an incident once where I gave a review to my boss on a very bad hangover and I cursed myself for it later. There will be certain days when work will screw you up. You will be fucked up. You will want to give up.

And that willl happen on many bad days. But remember you have reached this far and it is just a matter of few certain days. Life is a roller coaster so you are going to have good and bad days. Do not give up. You have come too far now. It is just one more exam , one more level . You are going to be fine . You will be. Talk to your colleagues when you have such feelings. Keep aside a day when you want to cry it all out. Don’t let that get into your head and make you do stupid things. Talk to your siblings , to your family. They are always going to support you. They will be there with you till the end of it. You will crack this too. You are a strong person. You are fighter. Don’t be scared. Its just a phase of life , it will pass as well too. You will be happy on days when you get amazing apperciations from senior level people. Just remember that you have what it takes and that is why you had chosen to enter this profession.

In the end when you will be done with your exams and serving your last few days of articleship , you are going to miss every bit of this. All memories good and bad. You will now be entering the corporate world with the two letters CA in front of your name. each day , every bit of it will all be worth in the end. It’s the happiest feeling of your life when all that struggle of yours will be leading to successful results. And yes not everyone clears CA final in the first attempt. Only 2 to 7% people from the entire country achieve that. But we are not quitters , are we? No we are not. We are not going to give up on this. That CA was ypur dream and you are going to achieve it and fulfil it. And when all your dreams come true , it is going to be an end to a memorable journey.

All the best to all articles who are reading this. Everyone who is in their final years rock that exam. You can do this. To new articles – Welcome aboard again. You will be reaching your destination in 3 years. Hope you have a pleasant jouney with less turbulences on the way. And to all new CAs – hope you have an amazing work journey in your life ahead. All the best everyone.

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