Home » Graduate Careers » How a tax graduate programme benefits business and its candidates

Ryan O’Brien

Tax Assistant Manager, Global Employer Services, Deloitte

A tax graduate programme, in an engaging and supportive work environment, is offering its candidates the opportunity to thrive and excel within the accounting and financial services sectors.

With ongoing support, networking, and flexible working practices, graduate programmes ensure candidates can thrive, achieve and evolve within an organisation. While the work may be challenging, and the continuing exams sometimes daunting, there are clear rewards for young people.

Supportive tax graduate programme

Ryan O’Brien, 25, joined the Deloitte Graduate Programme in the Cork office’s Global Employer Services (GES) line after studying International Business at the University of Limerick for four years.

Recently promoted to Assistant Tax Manager after completing the graduate programme and achieving highly in the accounting and tax exams, he points to the support offered as a key component in his success. He joined the graduate scheme in 2020. Covid-19 restrictions meant it was April 2021 before he got into the office. However, a previous internship with the company meant he already knew some colleagues.

Building finance qualifications

During the scheme, O’Brien worked through the rounds of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland exams, moving up the associate ladder as he passed each stage. He also took the Institute of Taxation exams, achieving first place in the ‘Tax Part 2’ exams this year. The graduate scheme offers much more in terms of work, with experience of different departments. “I was involved in engagement teams and client projects with hands-on experience from moment I joined the firm,” adds O’Brien.

Coaching from management

Graduates on the three-and-a-half-year programme are allocated a coach from management level and a buddy as a go-to point of contact to help with settling in. “Coming straight out of college into a professional services firm is a daunting experience, so, to have a buddy who has been in that position, and a coach, really helped,” says O’Brien. “It helps you fit into the Deloitte culture.”

Graduates on the three-and-a-half-year programme are allocated a coach from management level and a buddy as a go-to point of contact to help with settling in.

With the regular exams and lectures, he points to the support structure in place for the graduate programme with flexible working practices, study leave and external facilitators offering additional sessions. For the final accounting exams, candidates have 12 weeks of paid study leave, which O’Brien says is invaluable but also an important investment for the company, as highlighted by the 95% pass rate among participants.

Inclusive and progressive programme

Advice he would give to students applying to the Tax Graduate Programme is to speak with those already doing the course, visit the company website and do relevant research.

“Look at which area you might want to go into — be that tax, audit, risk advisor, financial services or consulting, and give time to the application process.” He also emphasises that it is not essential to have college qualifications in tax or accounting to apply.

For those securing a place on the programme, he urges them to get to know people, attend events for graduates and network. “One of the most important things once on the scheme is to gauge how you are progressing,” he says. “The company has an open-door policy where you can constantly request feedback, and there is a dedicated feedback platform, so ask people how you are getting on, what you could work on better and how you can improve.”

Opportunities for growth

O’Brien believes talent is recognised within the company with opportunities for promotion to manager and senior manager-level and beyond. “Deloitte really do value people, and if you want to progress, the firm will recognise that,” he says. “It is not a walk in the park; the graduate programme is challenging, but once you have those letters after your name, it is all worth it, and the support has been exceptional.”

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