Harry Rosenberg is studying BSc Accounting and Finance. He took a year’s placement with the Northern Care Alliance (NCA), which is part of the NHS working with hospitals in Salford, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham. We spoke to him about what he’s doing and what he’s learning on placement. 

Photo of Harry Rosenburg at a laptop

How did you secure your placement?

The head of my department at University sent around an email saying some people from the NCA are doing a presentation for a placement and that intrigued me. I wanted to gain more experience, to expand on what they have taught me at university, to ensure that once I finish my degree, I’ll be as prepared as possible to join the financial and accounting world.

I went to the presentation and got all the information. After that, we had the opportunity to apply for a role, there was an interview, it all went well and yeah, I’m here.

What’s your role within the company?

I deal a lot with the NHS PE weekly files. The NHS PE is a standalone organisation that provides medical and agency staff. They send me an invoice to do with the shifts staff have worked and I sort out the cost centres, all of the data and formulas and send them out to the individual care organisations and then post a journal to get it onto the ledger.

I love it. I enjoy the responsibility, there are deadlines weekly that I need to keep up on but I feel like I’m learning a lot.

Did you feel well prepared for the placement?

Yes, 100%, the university prepared me very well for this placement. What we learned at university taught me an overview of what I’m doing, it gave me a base knowledge. So for example, prepayments and accruals; I knew exactly what they were, and I knew exactly what to expect. I knew how debt leaves an account. I knew prepayments and accruals would be reversed out every month. I learned the accounting concepts as well. If you debit there’s going to be a credit somewhere else. When I was learning Sage at University, it taught me if you make a mistake in a journal, you can’t just delete it. You need to credit the other side then re-debit it to correct it.

I feel supported all of the time, especially within the company. I just know that if I ever have a problem, it’s only a Team’s call away or it’s only a walk to a desk if I’m in the office. In terms of support from the uni, my university supervisor has honestly been phenomenal. If I ever have a question, all I have to do is email him and he replies so quickly.

So yes, I thought I was well prepared. And now I feel even more prepared to go back to uni because of the skills I’ve learned here.

Harry and his placement provider Suzanne
Harry and his placement provider Suzanne

What have you learned from your placement?

I’ve definitely expanded my Excel skills, such as dealing with formulas, like V lookups, ‘ifs’ and loads of different formulas. I like to think I’ve become very good at dealing with that sort of thing. Also my problem solving skills; when people come to me with a problem, for example I might get an email or a Team’s call, it’s about identifying what the problem is and how to solve it. Those skills I feel like I’ve really improved on.

At university, they give you an overview of how things work in accounting, but from working at my placement, I’ve really got involved with how values get to a certain amount, how things turn out the way they do. At university, it’s just there on a piece of paper. So, we get asked to create an income statement and it just says at the beginning of the question, ‘receivable was £200,000’. But what I’ve learned from this placement is how that £200,000 became £200,000. It’s really given me an insight into the financial world.

It’s improved my communication skills too. We have morning meetings every morning where we communicate what we’re doing, where we’re up to. Teamworking as well. Sometimes, when there’s a problem and I’m still a bit confused, me and some of the members of the team get on a Team’s call and we figure out what’s wrong by working together.

All the people I’ve worked with, everyone’s been so supportive, so understanding of my learning. They always bear with me when I make mistakes and it’s just been the best working environment here.

What’s the most surprising thing that you’ve learned?

The most surprising thing I’ve learned? How complicated the calculation of VAT can be! I always thought it was just 20% but sometimes it’s 20% of only part of the invoice. There’s loads of little rules suggesting when VAT is recoverable in the NHS. I didn’t realise it was that complicated.

Would you recommend the placement to others?

I can’t stress enough how much I’d recommend it to students. You need to go into it with the right attitude and really wanting to do it but if you go in with those two things, then yes. You learn skills that you didn’t know you needed to learn. You get a real grasp of the working world that you’re eventually going to go into. It gets you into a successful work habit, gets you up at half six in the morning to get to work. So yes, I’d recommended it 100%.

I haven’t thought too far into the future. But I definitely want to become a fully qualified accountant, as soon as I can. Get myself a good degree and see where that takes me really.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your placement?

The most rewarding thing is me meeting my deadlines each week. For example, I need to post to my journals on a Wednesday, I need to send all my files out to the care organisations on a Monday. Once those deadlines are met, it’s an unbelievably rewarding feeling – and because it happens twice a week, I always feel that way.

Working for the NHS honestly feels incredibly more rewarding than it would any other company, just because I know I’m working for a company that saves lives. I can’t think of any other company especially in this country that does the same thing. I know I’m not helping directly in the hospitals but me, you know doing the jobs I do, I know I help in an indirect way and that gives me a feeling of I’ve done something well today and that feeling you can’t get any other company.

It’s been rewarding, challenging, but most importantly, really enjoyable.

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