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Student Insights

Student societies: your questions answered

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 25 Feb 2021

Student societies main

If you haven’t joined your local student society yet, then find out more about the events, learning and networking opportunities on offer

Why should I join a student society?

Student societies are a great way to meet others at the same point in their training journey – particularly for those in smaller firms who may not have a large cohort. It’s also an opportunity to get the balance between work, study and socialising right, spending time with fellow students in an informal, fun environment, and sharing learning, ideas and experiences. Most ACA students join their local student society – and many find that they make friends for life.

“The best thing about getting involved with your student society is meeting other ACA trainees from different firms in your area,” says Alex Narang, Chair of the Manchester Chartered Accountants Students’ Society. “It’s great to have friends around you who you can revise with, as well as celebrate with after exams and results!”

How do I join?

There are societies operating across the UK, as well as a number of international ones. When you start your ACA training, you are automatically assigned to your local society, based on your primary address (or you can find it here).

“I love being part of my student society as I get to meet individuals from all the local accounting firms, big or small,” says Katie Cash of the Nottingham Chartered Accountants Students’ Society. “You get to understand a variety of experiences that are being had by local student accountants in the area, and you can establish firm relationships with other firms to improve knowledge and insight into the accounting world.”

What sort of events do student societies run?

Each society has its own programme, usually a mix of social, sporting, professional and educational events. Most host new starter events, which is a great way of getting to know other new trainees. Over the past year, societies have been thinking creatively and organising virtual events such as wine tasting and yoga sessions alongside learning and networking opportunities. You will be sent emails from your local society, or you can follow them on social media to keep up to date with what’s going on.

“There are a wide range of events, and you get to meet so many people,” says Anne-Marie Asenso of the Chartered Accountants Students’ Society in London. “It’s sociable and it reminds you that there’s more to being an accountant than IFRS and Excel spreadsheets! My favourite event was a fashion show event. I’ve also been to yoga and netball, and increased my memory skills with a memory skills event. Come along, volunteer if you can and just have fun.”

How can I volunteer?

The societies are run by students for students, and all are in need of enthusiastic volunteers. As well as meeting other students and developing your professional skills outside work, volunteering gives you the opportunity to have your say on a variety of issues that affect students and their training. Each society has a number of executive roles including Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and ICAEW Student Council (ISC) representative, which are decided each year at the annual general meeting, as well as non-executive roles such as social media and local firm representatives. If you are interested in getting involved, get in touch with the Chair at your local society.

“I chose to volunteer with my student society committee because I come from a small firm and wanted the chance to meet other members and attend events,” says Laura Dymott, a former member of the North West Students’ Society, and now part of the London District Society. “During my time on the committee, I built my networking skills, organised events and improved my presentational skills. I joined the ICAEW Student Council to represent members in my area, and that gave me the confidence to run for the ICAEW Council. This has hugely improved my network and allowed me to really represent members and hopefully be a positive force for change.”

How much time would I need to commit?

As little or as much as you like. Societies vary in terms of their activities – some hold events every month or so, while others only a couple of times a year – so it really depends on the size of the committee and your role. It should be manageable between your work, studies and social life, though.

“The most important skill for me was the opportunity to lead such an amazing, diverse and bright team of people,” says Esther Leung, Chair of the Bristol & District Chartered Accountants Students’ Society. “It’s something that you don't really get exposed to early on in your career, and I think it’s an amazing opportunity to work together to execute some really creative events. It has also been invaluable in building my professional network, which I didn't realise was so important until it came to finding my first role after I qualified.”

Find out more about student societies and get involved here.