Probably the most commonly asked question among students aspiring to be outstanding CAs.
It’s a tough decision.
And it could well be a career changing one. People looking to hire you will focus their attention on questions like “From where did you do your articleship?”
So without further ado, here is our analysis on what decision to take.
Choices of places from which to do articleship training
To make the best choice, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions.
First, ask yourself what’s your plan after becoming a CA?
Do you want to get into practice? Or do you want to go for employment?
What interests you? Do you like traveling?
It’s not a question that can be put off to later. The answer formulates your choice, you see.
Also, do you want to do an articleship under a principal for the entire 3 years? Or do you want Corporate Exposure in your final year?
Once you have a rough idea of what you are going to do, it’s time to decide which firm you should join.
Understand that we can divide CA Firms into three broad categories:
- Big firms
- Medium firms
- Small firms
Let’s see the pros and cons of getting an articleship from each.
- Specialised work: You’ll get to work in specialised areas. Big firms have different departments, and each department specialises in different areas. So, your area of specialisation will depend on which department you join
- Corporate culture: Some people are made for corporate culture. Some are not. If you are one of those who like everything extremely organised and laid out, perhaps this environment is the best for you. You’ll learn how to talk, dress, write and present yourself in a dignified, corporate way
- Specialised resume: If your plan is to work in the area of your specialisation, your experience will give you a great chance to get a job in the corporate world in this area
- Travel: You’ll have opportunities to travel all throughout India. Sometimes even abroad
- Stipend: You’ll get a somewhat large stipend as compared to the other options. If you need financial help, you might want to consider this
- High work pressure: You’ll face a high degree of work pressure. You might have to work several late nights in a row
- Little time for study: As a result of the high work demands, you may not have enough time to study. You’ll have to learn how to manage your time very well in this case
- Lack of a broad knowledge base: Because your tasks are specialised, you’ll not be able to gain a broad overview of all subjects. If you are planning to pursue practice, this could be a drawback
Who should go for big firms?
If you want to get recruited at an accounting firm, we suggest you go for a big firm. It’ll give you an opportunity to deeply specialise in your area of interest. Not only that, you’ll get opportunities to travel during your articleship. And you’ll learn all about corporate culture as we said before. But be warned! You’ll have to possess or acquire great time management skills. Because you’ll get very little time to study.
- Not very specialised: You’ll work in many broad areas. You won’t be stuck in one particular You’ll gain knowledge of many areas of accounting. This is most useful if you want to pursue practice
- Somewhat flexible timings: In general, people won’t care about when you clock in or clock out. They’ll want the job done. That’s all. But if you are constantly coming late, then they’ll make a fuss
- Decent stipend: While the stipend is not as high as when you join a big firm, it’s not too bad either
- Some travel opportunities: While you may not get as many chances to travel as in the big firms, you will, on occasion, have to do so. Especially during busy seasons
- Not too much work pressure: The work pressure is not as intense as in a big firm. But there’s a degree of work pressure during busy times of the year
- Less expertise in a single area: As your work is not as specialised, you’ll not get a thorough knowledge of any area. You’ll gain a broad knowledge of different areas
- Less experience of the corporate world: Due to its somewhat laidback nature, you may be rough around the edges if you step out into the corporate world. If you are easily adaptable, this shouldn’t pose much as a problem. It just takes some getting used to
- Slightly underrated resume: Your resume may not stand out as much as others who’ve done their articleship from a big firm. You might want to take a look at industrial training to bridge this gap
Who should go for medium firms?
If you are inclined towards private practice, then we think you should join such firms. You’ll learn practical aspects of “something about everything.” Also, if you are confused about your plans, a mid-sized firm is best. It gives you a certain degree of career flexibility. You are not committed to one future path as opposed to joining a big firm or small firm.
- Diverse work: In small sized firms, there’s a limited number of staff. As such, you get to work in many different areas. This will help you diversify your knowledge. It’s just like in the case of a mid-size firm. But even more diversification if that makes any sense!
- Flexy timings: In small firms, people generally don’t care when you clock in and clock out. All that matters is that you finish the task at hand. Compare this to big firms where you are to come in at set times
- Build networks: You’ll know basically everyone in the firm. Including clients because these firms generally have a local client base. You can leverage this to build your network
- Free time: You’ll probably have more free time than if you work for a bigger firm. You can use this time to pass the CA Final. The reason why we say probably is because it depends on your circumstance!
- Homely atmosphere: The atmosphere is quite homely. You’ll get to build personal relationships with everyone. The routine is quite relaxed, and you won’t travel much. That’s a bonus if you are a homebody!
- No specialisation: You won’t get an in-depth knowledge of any field. You’ll learn a variety of skill sets but specialisation? Forget about it
- Underrated resume: Small sized firms are barely a blip on the radar. If you want to get a job in bigger firms later, your resume will be underrated as compared to others who did their articleship from bigger firms
- Variable work: At times, you won’t get much work. And at other times, specially towards the end of the year or tax time, you’ll get swamped
- Low stipend: In general, you’ll not get paid as much stipend as you would if you joined in bigger firms
Who should go for small firms?
We think that only people who want to join practice after completing your CA should go for small firms. Specially those who want to practice in more diverse areas. And if you’ve built your network well during your articleship, so much better! Also, if you want to plan on doing industrial training later, you might want to think about this option.
How do you register for Articleship?
There is a step by step procedure to register for CA Articleship including how to transfer articleship, etc. Keep in mind that ICAI has considered pretty much every scenario!
City of Articleship
In India, each city has its own advantages and disadvantages. As you are fully aware, the economic situation in the country is quite variable. And because a CA is generally a localised profession, the jobs you’ll encounter are usually local. So, try to do your articleship from a city where there are a lot of businesses. That way, you’ll get the best exposure.
Transfer of Articleship
You can choose to transfer your articleship. Many people join a big firm in their first year, and depending on their experience, transfer to a mid-size firm in their second. And in their third year, they take up industrial training.
As you can see there’s no one size fits all “right” answer. And you have a lot of options. All serving to confuse you. In the end, it depends on your preferences. Your ability. Your areas of interest.
But if you are still confused about what to do, we suggest the following two paths:
- Join a mid-size firm for the first two years of articleship. Do industrial training in your final year. This will give you a great deal of flexibility for your future. You’ll get a decent stipend, enough time to study, and you could branch out both into practice or employment. You can pick up the specialisation if needed on the job, as it were
- For the first year, work in a big firm. Gain a specialised experience. Then, in your second year, transfer to a mid-size firm that allows industrial training in the 3rd This way you’ll get to see both a corporate and a laid-back culture. You’ll gain a certain degree of specialisation. You’ll also get a decent overview of the domain. Finally, in your third year, your industrial training will help you!
Both paths (a) and (b) are viable. As we said, it all comes down to you.