All the usual questions answered under one roof


What is the Milkround?

The “Milkround” is a period between September and late November where some of Ireland’s largest accountancy firms run their graduate recruitment process to hire graduates for the following year’s intake (or two years time if you decide to complete a postgrad course). It is somewhat of a standardised process, governed by CAI, where firms travel around to universities and institutes providing information on their graduate programmes and available positions. Students will then complete applications online and go through various interview processes.

I haven’t an accounting degree. Can I still apply for milkround positions?

The issue of candidates not having a background in accounting is a typical question raised prior to the milkround process. In 2012 18% of the direct graduate intake for CAI were from non business degrees (source page 7). Issues such as how this would impact on ability to get past the application process and the longer term impact such a route would have on the ability of a candidate to excel and perform in the role are common. I will deal with these issues separately;

Getting Past the Application

The typical presumption by students is that milkround positions are only for business and accounting graduates. Granted that the majority of the graduate trainees will have business and accounting degree backgrounds this certainly does not exclude any student with other degree backgrounds from applying and being successful in the milkround process. All of the firms are explicit in respect of this issue and they actively encourage candidates with a vast array of backgrounds to apply. From my personal experience I have encountered graduates from history, english, law, physiotherapy, psychology and engineering degrees being successful in the milkround process.

It is only natural that students from non typical milkround degree backgrounds would be apprehensive of their ability to demonstrate to interviewers of their suitability for the role and from the other perspective the ability for interviewers to understand if the candidate is suitable, given their lack of any experience in the business area. I would recommend to any student in this situation to utilise the following framework to analyse their current situation and assess their reasoning for applying to the milkround;

Interest – Motivation – Ability

  • Interest – Why are you interested in the role? What sparked your interest? How have you developed your knowledge of the area?
  • Motivation – What motivates you to become an accountant? Where do you want to be in five/ten years?
  • Ability – What transferrable skills have you? Have you a quantitative background? Are you an experienced leader?

On the Job

The other general presumption is that a candidate with a non-business degree will struggle with the demands of the graduate trainee role and the professional exams. Again this is not necessarily true as a whole and the IMA framework above will certainly give a better understanding of whether a student will be able for the role. There are many degrees that compliment several milkround areas – e.g. Legal degrees are useful for taxation, restructuring and M&A roles; Management degrees are useful in advisory roles.

Further Study

The final thing for non business graduates to consider is completing a PDA for a year prior to commencing work. Many firms will sponsor your fees for the year and it will allow you time to understand the core principles without the need to juggle full time work. The PDA will also provide you with an exemption from your first set of professional exams. Please see our Masters/PDA section.

I have no prior experience in working in an accounting firm or in an office. Will this reduce my chances in the milkround?

For accounting degree students there may be opportunities for placements (dependent on your college course) or internships.  However given the limited number of intenrship roles (typically only 10% of the milkround numbers for many firms) and the competitive process involved to obtain such positions (many firms have a similar number of internship applications as milkround applications) many good students will be unable to obtain such experience prior to their milkround applications. This is of course acknowledged by firms and factored into any application process. However that is not to say applicants can’t have other relevant working experience (milkround mindset) and to use this experience to showcase their competencies and skills that can be transferrable to the new role.

Any work experience, regardless if it is accounting based or not, is a valuable asset for any candidate.

Is there a minimum result required from my degree and/or a minimum required score in my leaving cert?

The majority of firms have a minimum required 2.1 result for your undergraduate programme in order to apply for the positions on offer. The minimum score for your leaving cert is less explicit but many firms will take this into account when assessing students’ ability, given the standardised nature of the exam and the ability to compare students across the spectrum from one exam.

I would recommend reading carefully the information provided by each frim regarding their application process as many will explicitly say the minimum required results for degree and leaving cert (some may also required subject specific scores in the leaving cert e.g maths and english)

If there were extenuating circumstances which resulted in your results not being a true reflection of your ability each application form generally provides a section where you can provide further information in this regard.

How can I find out what exemptions I can get?

CAI have extensive information about the exemptions provided for each particular course – pay attention to the choice of subjects required to get certain exemptions.

I’m not sure which area I would like to work in – which is best?

Please see our Area Choice section

Should I do a masters/PDA before commencing my training contract?

Please see our Masters/PDA section

Which firm should I choose?

Please see our Firm Choice section

Do I have to work in Dublin?

The heart of the milkround is undoubtedly Dublin with the majority of the positions being based there. That being said there are a sizeable number of positions available in regional offices (Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford etc depending on each firm) across various areas which does provide choice to students to whom the Dublin based lifestyle is not appealing. Take a look at my “Ireland’s Top Accountancy Firms” page to see where each firm have offices.

I’ve never done an interview before – what can I do to prepare?

Please see our Interview section

I’ve never prepared a CV before – where can I get help with this?

Please see our CV/Cover Letter section


Take a look at Chartered Accountants Ireland – Chartered Careers FAQ