What was your pathway into an apprenticeship?
I completed A levels in Maths, Business and Chemistry and AS Media Studies. My plan was always to have a year out after finishing sixth form. I had a place to study Accounting and Finance at University of Reading but I opted to defer it for a year. During this time, I saw there was an apprentice opportunity at Mercer & Hole–I applied online and was sent some forms to fill in. This was followed by a telephone interview and then a day where I came in for isometric testing. Finally, I had a face-to-face interview with members of the Outsourcing, Audit and HR teams. When I was offered the job, I thought I’ll try it and see – I always had the uni place to fall back on if I didn’t like it.
How has it worked?
I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along. As one of the first apprentices here, many of my instructions were verbal to begin with but now we’ve developed more processes and the training has become more structured.
Initially, I started working on accounts preparation and then I moved on to audit, which was a lot more testing; learning about things like stocktaking and the administration. I’ve gone out to clients and learnt about different companies, which I have found interesting.
I’m now taking a junior role in audits where I’m progressing and getting more responsibility; becoming more independent and needing less guidance.
Recently, I took my first stocktake independently. I was nervous but I was well briefed beforehand and knew what I was doing. It’s given me more confidence and I now feel more able as a result.
The social aspect is really good too — the work life balance. We do lots of things outside of work; drinks, pub quizzes, going to classes at the gym and different events – cocktail making, for instance. I enjoy socialising with older people, although the Audit team is quite young, and I don’t see the age difference anyway — it doesn’t bother me.
What advice would you give to someone considering the Programme?
You’ve got to be interested in business and people. You’ve got to like numbers because you’ll be using them every day. A good maths understanding and an ability to think logically are also important.
You need to be driven; understand that you are going to be studying whilst working–you’ve got to be able to balance that and juggle revision around work. It’s not easy to work five days a week and to study.
A willingness to meet new people is important too. You will work with different managers who will have their own style of explaining things, each one offering you a different perspective. Plus, you will meet a variety of clients too.
I have just completed my AAT Level 3 and plan to start the ACA process with the graduates in September. Then it’s another two and a half years of studying alongside of work. My route to qualification, having started as an apprentice, will mean that I will finish two years ahead of my peers. I enjoy working every day and getting experience–for me, it was a much better way and I don’t regret not going to uni at all.