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Mary-Kate Padian

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What was your pathway into an apprenticeship?
I had a few ideas about what I wanted to do when I left school and I did also apply to go to university. Ultimately, I decided it would be a quicker route to do the apprenticeship and it would be more hands on, giving me lots of work experience instead of leaving University after three years with no work experience. I knew I wanted to do something in finance, accounting, or business, having done Maths, Business Studies and Art at A Level, so this was a great choice for me.

How has it worked?
I joined Mercer & Hole in September 2021 and have been in the office all of the time apart from two weeks in December when we worked from home due to the pandemic. I feel I can learn more being in the office as it is more hands on and interactive.

I’m an Outsourcing Apprentice and will be working towards Level 4. I’ve already taken one exam and I am due to sit another at the end of February. After that I will start going to college one day per week.

I have time on a Friday to spend half of the day studying and at other times if I’ve finished my work, I can use that time to study, this helps me to balance working and studying at the same time, without getting overwhelmed. Outsourcing means I work on book-keeping, VAT returns, bank analysis and reconciliation of all the company transactions and I’m using online accounting systems such as Xero, QuickBooks, Sage and Pro Audit – but my favourite is Xero. I was a little worried that if I didn’t go to University, I wouldn’t meet other young people. I was also concerned that I didn’t have the knowledge to go into work straight from school, but Mercer & Hole has a Buddy Scheme and that makes you feel more secure and confident. The Buddy Scheme is where another trainee is there to assist you with anything you are stuck on, such as how to send a formal email, or how to do a bank analysis. I feel this scheme made me feel supported and it was helpful to learn from someone who has recently joined, as they understand what it is like to be new.

It has worked out really well, I’m happy here and I enjoy the social aspect of work as well. I was able to meet other colleagues from other offices and apprentices at a social event held back in October which was good.

What advice would you give to someone considering the programme?
My school didn’t really give me much information about the apprenticeship scheme as it was very University focused, so it was something I investigated myself. One of the reasons I decided to do the apprenticeship was due to the pandemic, as the University experience wouldn’t have been as I hoped, so looking back I’m glad I made that decision.

My advice would be to make sure you have a balance so you make time for everything in your life – work, studying and a social life as they are all important. Make sure you are organised to help you to do this. I made myself a timetable to make sure I had time to get my revision done, as I did struggle a little at first.

What’s next?
I will be supported by Mercer & Hole during my ACA exams to be a Chartered Accountant which will take three years to do. I feel like I’ve got a head start in my career by already having a head start as an apprentice, this route has given me invaluable work experience and it is a role which has really suited me.

I haven’t decided what I would like to do ultimately. I might go into auditing as I think it would be great to visit clients and their businesses and to work with a broad variety of different sectors.

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