‘Anyone running a business should do it’

Further education profile: Jo Collins, Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma online

What course did you study and where?
I studied online for the Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma.

Why did you choose a Further Education course?
I am a numbers person – they're in my DNA – the subjects appealed to me and had practical applications for the north Dublin-based taxi business I ran for 35 years. My children were getting older and I wanted a new challenge, but couldn't commit to being in class.

What has been the highlight for you?
There were many lightbulb moments in terms of learning, but the student forums, at which we could all swap stories, were wonderful. I remain in awe of my fellow students, most were working full-time and raising young children. In my case, I bought two desks for the attic, a new computer, and my Junior Cert daughter and I became study buddies.

What was the biggest challenge?
It was so long since I had written anything longer than a parent's note for a teacher, I couldn't see how I would manage to remember enough to pass an exam.

What would you advise someone thinking of a Further Education course?
The Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma is suited to anyone who wants to pursue a career in accounting, not only those who are starting off in life. Anyone running a business should do it. A lot of small and medium business owners are completely focused on running the company and don't really have an understanding of accounts.

What is the next step for you?
I am now an accounting technician with Clontarf firm Howlin, O'Rourke and Co, where I was once a client. I also undertake independent consulting, advising on accounting software and moving from one accounts package to another. My qualification gives me confidence and credibility. Instinctively, I was an accounting professional in my business life, but now have the tools of the trade.