School-leaver perspective – Sam

What attracted you to a career in accounting?

Throughout school I was always interested in business and wanted to understand more about how businesses operated and succeeded. The more research I did, the more it was clear that the best way to understand business was to understand the numbers behind them. Accountancy was therefore the best option in my view to get this education about business.

I also liked the idea of the challenge behind obtaining the Chartered qualification!

Why did you choose the apprenticeship route over university?

This is probably the easiest & best decision I have made! The apprenticeship route at Kirk Newsholme allowed me to work on real clients & businesses from day 1. I was studying towards my qualification alongside working, which provided invaluable work experience in comparison to those who took the university route.

I was also being paid by Kirk Newsholme to learn, rather than those at university paying to obtain the same qualification! Avoiding student debts overall was a big pull alongside that.

In the three years for those choosing the university route, students will have learnt a lot of theory and spent this time in the lecture hall. With the apprenticeship route however, I was able to apply the theory learnt in college to real clients and work, alongside improving my interpersonal skills of meeting and handling clients in this time.

Finally, I also think it worked out slightly quicker in gaining the Chartered qualification in comparison to the university route!

What were the benefits and challenges of studying as an apprentice?

The main benefit I think is financially being able to do things quicker than those who chose the university route. Such as moving out, upgrading cars etc I think can probably be achieved quicker in the apprenticeship route.

Alongside this, I think career progression can occur quicker due to the more years of work experienced gained through studying as an apprentice.

However, one challenge is the lack of social life in comparison to those who choose university. When I first started my apprenticeship in 2016, virtually all my friends went to university. This resulted in me being in bed at 9:30 on a Tuesday night, working the Wednesday, but all my school friends were usually just about to go on a night out!

Alongside this, particularly as studies progress and get harder, juggling work and study can be challenging.  The Chartered qualification requires a lot of additional study time outside of college and therefore can make workdays and weekends very long. Fortunately however, I have a very supportive employer and the support system the Training Provider offers is fantastic which therefore makes this manageable.

What are you doing now you are a fully qualified accountant?

After 5 years of studying to become fully qualified, I am now simply enjoying the free time! However, at work I now have a small portfolio of clients that I help to manage, alongside supporting managers with their clients.

Is there anything you learnt during your apprenticeship that you feel particularly benefits you now?

I think the main benefits relate to interpersonal skills learnt, rather than just the curriculum taught. As part of our study we attended skills days which help develop skills such as debating and managing a project, also handling and dealing with clients at work means that overall, my communication and confidence have been built and improved massively since starting as an apprentice.

Have you got any advice for anyone thinking of starting accountancy studies?

Don’t go to university….!

Would you recommend the apprenticeship route to other students?

Without a doubt! I would just however recommend that the employer that you choose to work for is supportive and has your best interests as a student at the forefront.