‘No one knows everything when they start in a new job’

My career path: Sybil Smyth is a trainee at Deloitte’s tax department

Sybil Smyth: “Never be afraid to admit that you don’t understand something because it will stand to you in the long run.”

Sybil Smyth: “Never be afraid to admit that you don’t understand something because it will stand to you in the long run.”


What/where did you study and when did you graduate?

I studied commerce in UCD, graduating in 2014. I then went on to complete the masters of accounting in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and graduated in 2015.

What attracted you to the role you now have?

I have been working with Deloitte for three years. Like many commerce students, I was attracted to a career in professional services and having taken some tax modules, I was very interested in working in tax. I applied to the company for a number of reasons but the biggest influence in my decision was my older brother, who had just come through the graduate programme and had very positive things to say about the firm, the experience he had gained while working there and the friends he had made along the way.

Why did you apply to the company you now work for?

From my own research, I learned the company offered many benefits such as compressed working weeks throughout the summer months. In addition, they offered to sponsor the masters of accounting which not only gave me an extra year in college – which I think a lot of students would be happy with! – but also allowed me to obtain all of the CAP 2 exemptions, meaning I would have less professional exams to sit while working. Finally, I had the opportunity to meet some tax associates at a graduate recruitment event in advance of my interview, and having spoken to them I was sure the company would be a good fit for me.

What did you find most challenging about the working world?

One of the most challenging things about the working world is understanding that different people will have different styles or approaches and adapting my own approach to work best with them. I have worked with a number of different people across all levels and areas of the firm both in Ireland and across the global Deloitte network – each time I have had to think about how that person operates and how they might want to approach things.

Do you have any mentors and if so what is their value to you?

I have been lucky enough throughout my time here to have a number of mentors/role models and they have been invaluable to me. Particularly as I progress in my career, it has been amazing to have a group of more experienced people who have been in the same position as me to talk to about my career aspirations and get their guidance on how I can achieve them. The company promotes an open-door policy and with that as an associate I have been able to develop great working relationships with people at all levels, meaning I can comfortably discuss my career goals with very senior members of the team, who can provide valuable guidance based on their past experiences.

What is the most valuable thing you have learned since you joined the workforce?

One of the most valuable things I have learned since I joined the workforce is that you have to take responsibility for your own career and development. Working in Deloitte has given me the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects, allowing me to get great experience. However, it is important to remember that if you are interested in working in a particular industry or on a particular project, you should let people know. Do not be afraid to take charge of your career and ask for experience in a particular area if it’s something that interests you. The opportunities are endless.

One piece of advice for graduates

One thing I wish I knew when I finished college was that no one knows everything when they start in a new job. You have to remember that everyone starting with you is in the same boat and there will be a lot of ‘on-the-job learning’. Starting in an intake group means you start with a large group of people at the same stage as you and the graduate programme provides some of the best memories of your life. Following on from that, my one piece of advice to graduates would be to always ask questions. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t understand something because it will stand to you in the long run.