If you are not sure whether you are gaining the right type of practical experience, help is at hand with the below tips and advice.,
Variety: the spice of life
If you are already employed but are stuck in one role and not getting a variety of experience, it may be worth bringing this up in a meeting/appraisal with your manager. Use the practical experience requirements as a discussion point. Discuss how you can meet the requirements and broaden your skills and experience while still being a valued employee.
There are a number of possible options:
- Secondments – develop your skill base by changing roles within your company.
- Spending one day a week with another team – is there another CIMA student who could swap roles with you?
- Job shadowing – spend some time with a colleague and observe how other roles and tasks are carried out.
Foot in the door
If you are not currently working, update your CV and send it to local recruitment agencies. Don’t be obsessed by finding your perfect job: take positions which are offered to you even if they are only temporary roles, as this is a good way of gaining a wide breadth of experience.
Remember, you never know what these opportunities might lead to: my first job as a graduate began as a two week temporary placement, but eventually resulted in me working for the company for over a year and gaining invaluable experience to take into my next role.
Volunteer your skills
Another way of gaining experience is through voluntary work. Do some research locally to see if any local charities or organisations could use your skills – the answer is very likely to be yes.
In such a role, you might provide guidance to the chief executive and trustees on financial matters, liaise with auditors and/or provide support and advice to administrative staff. In doing so you would gain skills and experience while helping the charity, meaning everyone’s a winner.
If you can afford the time for a sabbatical you may want to consider taking on a larger voluntary project. Find out how you can get hands on experience while helping aid agencies worldwide work more efficiently by contacting award winning financial management charity Mango.
For more ideas, read inspiring articles on how CIMA members Sir Alec Reed, Christopher Rowe and Stuart Westcott have used their skills successfully to support charitable organisations.
Getting your practical experience may at times seem like a hard slog but be assured that other CIMA students and members have faced the same difficulties as you, and have overcome them by looking for alternatives and taking the opportunities that come their way.
All the experience that you gain, either through a permanent employer, a temporary contract or unpaid voluntary work, will count towards your CIMA practical experience requirement. It will also enhance your CV and help you to secure your next position.