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Is Articleship Important for a CA student?

When students approach me and ask whether they should do articleship in a CA firm or should they take a dummy, I get very sad and disappointed.  I am very sure that our Institute of Chartered Accountants of India at the time of envisioning this great profession would have never ever imagined students asking this question or for that matter even think of not undergoing articleship.

Årticleship, right from the very beginning has been made mandatory for all students pursuing chartered accountancy profession.  The basic fundamental of this proposition is to enable a young and budding chartered accountant understand the nuances of accounts, audit,law and tax and consequently, become a true professional.  Never ever would have our predecessors at the Institute of Chartered Accountants imagined a sight where students who have cleared chartered accountancy course could not even prepare a proper bank or cash book, which is typically the case with students who qualify as a CA and did not have had any prior articleship experience.

In my professional career of more than 15 years, which includes 3 years of articleship, I have met thousands of fresh chartered accountants.  In the first fifteen minutes of any interaction it is very easily identifiable whether or not that person has undergone articleship or is he/she giving some irrelevant gyaan to cover up his inexperience, or rather I would say his/her incompetency to answer relevant questions.

Articleship during the course of chartered accountancy is extremely important as it forms the backbone of your career.  

"A qualified chartered accountant without articleship experience is like a blunt knife, which has been built to cut anything but does not have enough strength.  And such knives are of no use to the society and therefore, redundant over a period of time."

It is important that articleship should be seen as a tool to learn and grow whilst in the process of your journey to become a chartered accountant.  I can share with you my experience when I was looking for articleship at the time of starting my career.  I did my graduation from Delhi University and at that time there were not many people to guide us for good articleship firms.  I am talking of the year 1999.  However, through some references I tried in 3-4 good firms and finally got through a firm called RSM & Co (which later merged with PwC in 2006).  During my articleship, my seniors always used to tell me one thing that the harder you work as a trainee, the brighter you would be as a chartered accountant.  And I think that grooming and training we received in our articelship days really helped us become solid professionals.  And because of the hard work and solid training I received, I was able to crack interviews in BIG4s leading to a awesome professional and personal life.

Some students also ask how would they cope up with studies and classes during articleship and my answer to them always remain the same.  You do not need coaching and training for all the subjects and even if you need then focus on your time management skills.  It is very important for anyone to realise that CA degree is a highly respected profession not only in India but across the globe and it is therefore, important that one manages everything well.

Me and my batch mates have all attended classes, though not all and used to travel extensively during our articleship days.  In fact, it was so much that almost 10-15 days in a month I was outstation and therefore, always missed my classes.  However, everyone in our batch always had one thing in our mind that we have to focus on our work as well as studies and therefore, managing them together was the key.  This attitude of not cribbing always helped us find time both for work and studies.

 What is that fear which comes to mind and forces a student to think whether he/she should do or not do articleship. I think the biggest fear is whether one would be able to manage and devote enough time to studies along with articleship.  My article on “Managing studies along with articleship”might help you with some tips on not only how to manage both, but excel.

How I analysed whether I should go for articleship or not – A very practical tip
I am about to share with you a very practical tip which I personally did when I was getting ready for articleship.  A lot of my relatives and friends told me to do articleship either from a very small firm (so that there’s not enough work and I get more time to study) or not do articleship at all, because as per them what matters is the CA degree and knowledge can be acquired later.  I was heavily confused just like many of you would be and then I did something very practical:
      1. I took a plain piece of paper and folded into half;

      2. In one half I wrotedown the advantages of doing articleship and in the other half write the dis-advantages;

      3. I could write down various advantages which typically included “acquiring knowledge, practical exposure to audit and tax matters, meeting CFOs of companies, networking with senior people and creating a strong network of friends who would all be interested in becoming real professionals”.

      4. However, when I started to think about the dis-advantages, I could write only one, i.e., getting more time to study.

      5. I realised that the advantages were many more than the dis-advantages and if I could manage my studies well along with articleship, I can achieve both the objectives. This thought in itself was highly motivating and wortha try.

      6. I made a well informed decision and went ahead with articleship; and that decision truly changed the course of my profession.

My advice to young students pursuing chartered accountancy is always to do articleship honestly and very seriously.  Things that you would learn in those three years would go a long way with you and would help you become a strong and respectable professional.  In the short term you might find things easily achievable, however your ambition to become a through and brilliant professional might turn out to be a distant dream.  After all do you want to be branded as a ‘Dummy CA’ after working so hard in clearing such difficult papers.

Write down your goals and work very very hard to achieve them.In the end I would like to end with a quote:

“ The person who sweats more in training, bleeds less in war”

Work hard in your training so that you become a great warrior.


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