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Tim’s journey to Accountancy Graduate of the Year

In his blog, Tim Mickleburgh shares his journey to becoming PQ Accountancy Graduate of the Year.

Tim Mickleburgh studied BSc accounting at Alliance Manchester Business School and graduated in 2023. This year, he was shortlisted and then announced as Accountancy Graduate of the Year at the PQ Awards. He shares his journey applying to The University of Manchester, studying BSc Accountancy, and how it felt winning the prestigious award.

Why did you apply to the University of Manchester?

I attended an open day and knew pretty much straight away that I wanted to study at the University of Manchester. I loved the campus, its facilities and its location and I was of course drawn to its reputation as one of the highest ranked universities in the UK and the most targeted university by the country’s top graduate employers. I was excited about the opportunities that would come with being a student at such a prestigious university and I was really happy when I was offered a place on the BSc Accounting programme.

Why did you want to study BSc Accounting?

I chose to study BSc Accounting because I wanted to push myself to take on a challenging subject and I liked how the programme’s structure would build up my knowledge of different areas of accounting and keep my options open for the future. I was also drawn to the prospect of becoming a Chartered Accountant beyond graduation and the BSc Accounting degree supports this by providing exemptions from a number of ACA, CIMA and ACCA exams and exposure to the best employers in the accounting and finance profession.

What was your experience studying the programme like?

I was the first person in my family to go to university which meant I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect from university before I started on the BSc Accounting programme in 2020. My three years at the University of Manchester ended up being the best years of my life. I loved spending my days on the campus, and I really enjoyed the lectures and seminars and found myself falling in love with learning. I spent lots of time studying with my course mates outside of the timetabled teaching and made use of office hours to seek feedback and guidance from my lecturers to help me improve my grades.

Were there opportunities outside of timetabled study that you could get involved with?

I was really keen to make an impact within the university community and enhance the experience for other students and help them to also flourish. There were lots of extracurricular activities that gave me the opportunity to do this. I was a Student Ambassador which involved writing blogs to share my university experience with the next generation of students, answering their questions on Unibuddy web chat, helping out at open days and taking new students on campus tours.

What were your biggest achievements?

Growing up as a young carer in a low-income household where no one had been to university before me, I thought that someone like me wouldn’t be able to succeed at university and I feared that I wouldn’t be as good as my peers. My three years at the University of Manchester taught me that you can achieve anything you want if you have a passion for what you do and you work really hard at it. I am really proud of how much I improved academically and how much my confidence grew. I was really happy when I was awarded the Professor Timothy O’Leary Prize for being the highest performing student in Intermediate Management Accounting and it was a dream come true when I graduated with a First Class in 2023.

How did you end up being nominated for PQ Accountancy Graduate of the Year?

The BSc Accounting programme directors Jennifer Rose and Reimala Sivalingam nominated me for Accountancy Graduate of the Year at the PQ Awards 2024 following my graduation. A panel of judges then selected three nominees for the shortlist, and I ended up being one of them. It was a huge surprise when I saw my name on the shortlist for such a prestigious award.

Tim holding his trophy at the PQ awards.

Why did your programme directors nominate you?

Jennifer Rose said, “Tim is an awesome example of the difference university can make. He made the most of every opportunity which came along and the way he developed as an undergraduate was remarkable. He was transformed from a shy teenager to a highly competent professional upon graduation and continues to inspire accounting undergraduates enabling them to also flourish.”

Reimala Sivalingam said, “Tim has supported many students by sharing his knowledge and experience to help them succeed academically and boost their career prospects. His enthusiasm as a graduate of the University of Manchester and continued support as an alumnus has truly made a difference in enhancing other students’ lives at university and beyond.”

How did you feel when you won the award?

I went to the award ceremony in London in April. I couldn’t believe it when I heard my name get announced as the winner and it still hasn’t sunk in yet. The version of Tim who commenced his degree in 2020 would be in disbelief if I could go back in time and tell him that he is going to be the PQ Accountancy Graduate of the Year in 2024. I will treasure my shiny PQ trophy forever and whenever I look at it I will be reminded of how much of a life changing experience university was for me. I really hope my achievement inspires other students from a similar background to me to work hard to make their dreams come true.

What advice would you give to other students?

My advice to other students at the University of Manchester would be to make the most of the opportunities that come with being a student at such a prestigious university. Make sure you engage with the teaching during lectures and seminars, study hard outside of the timetabled teaching and seek feedback and guidance from your lecturers during office hours. Also make sure you get involved in extracurricular activities such as positions of responsibility, societies and sports teams and seek work experience to enhance your employability. And remember to make lots of friends and take lots of photos!