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Getting involved: How it helped me

Excellent qualifications and proven academic achievements go a long way in the struggle to find a job. But do softer skills and a track record of getting involved in wider issues offer any substantial, quantifiable benefits? Two former chairs of the ISC (ICAEW student Council) share their experiences and views.

Juan Watterson is a Member of the House of Keys for Rushen on the isle of Man and was the second youngest politician ever elected to Tynwald, the Manx Parliament. He has recently been appointed as Junior Minister responsible for the Financial Services Sector within the Isle of Man Government. He chaired the ISC for a year from 2006-2007.

He says: 'I got involved with my local student society to provide an active social scene for students training on the Isle of Man. This opened the door to the ISC (NSC as it then was), which is far more involved in advocacy for students, and has an active part in feeding into the ICAEW decision-making process. I stood for Chair as I believed more could be done to foster the good work of local student societies which are a good marketing tool for the ACA - no other accountancy body has such a strong student network.

I believe that the skills I developed, and the role I played in NSC, combined with the high regard in which ICAEW is held, were positive selling points in my election campaign.'

He says that getting involved in the ISC and taking on the role of chair has had definite advantages and helped towards his successful election to the Manx parliament.

James Smith, ISC Chair 2008 to 2009 is currently a Manager in Transaction Services in Deloitte's Corporate Finance department, based in Bristol. He became involved in the ISC (or NSC as it was then) through his involvement in the Bristol and District Chartered Accountant Students' Society (BADCASS). He acted as Bristol representative on the ISC for two years, and found the experiences challenging and rewarding, and with a very enjoyable social aspect, primarily based around attendance at student society events across the country.

He says that getting involved in the ISC and taking on the role of Chair has had definite advantages. 'One of the major benefits is the number of people I met during my year as Chair. I was able to make national and international contacts of all ages across a wide range of industries, and learn a lot from talking to people with huge business experience. The opportunities I had to chair meetings of different committees and groups were invaluable, and allowed me to build public speaking, management and presentation skills, and learn from some much more experienced people.

Staying involved has meant I have had an opportunity to continue to build relationships, and also build the skills I developed over my time on the NSC.'