Could you tell us what your apprenticeship involves?
My apprenticeship involves practical work experience whilst also studying towards a professional qualification. The majority of my time is spent working on client projects with a variety of different teams. Being in assurance means that I often work out of the office at client sites, this is something that I enjoy as it means I am not stuck in the same place every day and I also get to see how a variety of different industries and businesses operate. The professional qualification I am working towards is my ACA (Chartered Accountancy) with ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales). In order to obtain this qualification I go out to college for a couple of weeks at a time to study towards a particular module, my qualification will involve sitting 15 exams in total over a 5 year period.
How did you find out about your apprenticeship role?
I always assumed that I would just go to university after finishing school as my teachers had always assured me that this was the better option. I attended a university/careers fair with my school at the beginning of year 13 and stumbled across the section for apprenticeships and employment opportunities. I had no idea that it was possible to become a chartered accountant by doing an apprenticeship until I had a conversation with someone from EY. I went home from the careers fair and did some of my own further research into the scheme that EY was offering and decided to apply!
What attracted you to an apprenticeship as opposed to a university degree?
One of the main things that attracted me to doing an apprenticeship rather than a university degree was the increasing costs of university. Knowing that I would come out of university with an average of £50k of debt and that I would be facing a lot of competition against other graduates to even get a job seemed like a bad deal, it made more sense to me to go out and earn my own money. Doing an apprenticeship also appealed to me as it meant that I could gain practical, hands on experience – something that my peers at university wouldn’t really be getting. This experience will make me a lot more employable in the future if I do decide to move on from EY and it will also mean that I can progress to an assistant manager level position by the end of my apprenticeship.
Could you tell us about the application / selection process?
In order to apply students will initially need to fill in an online application form. After completing this they will be sent through a number of tests to complete online at home – these include verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and situational judgement. If students are successful at this stage they will then be invited along to an assessment centre in the office where they will complete a variety of group, pair and solo tasks. Success at this stage will then lead to a final partner interview, a partner is the most senior level within the firm, this interview will generally last between 30 mins – 1 hour and is really an opportunity for you to showcase your ability and true self. It is probably the most daunting stage – but use it as an opportunity to really show off your skill set.
Would you recommend doing an apprenticeship and why?
Yes I would highly recommend doing an apprenticeship if you feel that it is what is right for you. University is the right option for some people but I definitely think more people should consider the benefits that an apprenticeship could offer them. They will have the chance to earn while they learn whilst also working towards a professional qualification. Doing an apprenticeship has allowed me to mature so quickly and it has exposed me to numerous opportunities to challenge myself. Many people also worry about the fact that they may miss out on the social side of university but I have made some amazing friends at EY and there is always loads going on – as a peer group we generally go out at least once a week, there is no need to worry about missing out!
What are the top 3 benefits of an apprenticeship?
Saving money / having money to spend – doing an apprenticeship means that I am able to avoid the burden of university debt whilst saving towards my future. It also means that I have more money than my friends at university to go out and spend on other experiences such as holidays etc.
The experience – gaining real hands on experience means that you can develop new skills and learn so much faster in comparison to sitting in a classroom. Every day I learn new things and being surrounded by such motivated and likeminded people inspires me to always aim higher.
Career progression – within my apprenticeship I will have opportunities for promotion through the ranks at EY. To know that I have the opportunity to be an assistant manager within the firm at the end of my 5 years is really motivating. If I had gone to university and then joined the firm I would be a lot older by the time I reached this rank.