06 February 2022

National Apprenticeship Week: Top apprenticeship tips from an apprentice

Thinking about studying an apprenticeship, but not sure where to turn? Where better to get advice than from someone who is currently an apprentice! We spoke to Abbie Hartley, Professional Accounting Technician Apprentice, about her top tips for anyone thinking about going down the apprenticeship route.

  • You do you

All of my college friends went to university, but I decided this wasn’t the right option for me because I knew what industry and job I wanted to go into. Don’t be overly influenced by your peers – when choosing a career, it is important to look long term – where could you be in that industry in 50 years’ time?

  • Work backwards

What’s your end goal? When looking into a career in Accountancy I researched the different areas and different qualifications available to decide which route I wanted to take. As an 18-year-old deciding on how to start my career I felt it was really important to make the right decision.  My research showed that you still had to take the Accountancy exams after you finish university to become a Chartered Accountant, as well as having to have 36 months’ work experience; by taking the Apprenticeship route, you may be surprised to know that I will qualify as a Chartered Accountant before a graduate from university. In addition, I would also have an extra three years’ worth of work experience. It is just a different route to get to the same end goal.

  • Give 110% effort

 Unfortunately, no one is going to put in the work for you, you can only do this yourself. When doing anything, do it well, with 110% effort – whether this be studying at college or at work. The more you put in the more you will learn.

  • Motivate to activate your career

I received job offers and accepted one from Whiting & Partners before I even undertook my A Level exams – I felt this gave me extra motivation to do as well as I could in the examinations because I had something to aim for.

  • Work experience is essential

 Don’t underestimate the value of work experience. I undertook work experience at two accounting firms, and as I enjoyed one of the placements so much, I was invited back for some more work experience and after that was offered my job.

  • Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

When I was preparing for video interviews for my Apprenticeship, I created A4 pieces of paper with details of potential discussion topics, for example ‘work’, ‘education’, ‘outside of college’ and questions I had for the interviewer. This allowed me to identify my key achievements and anything that made me ‘stand out’ in a competitive job market. I was then able to bring these discussion topics into the interview when relevant.

  • Organisation is key

Whether at school, college or work, organisation is key in any career. For example, in Accountancy, January is a busy month for tax returns. To keep organised I make a list of all the tasks I need to do in order of priority, then tick them off the to do list once complete, adding new ones when needed. I send an email at the end of the week to all of the partners and managers so they can see where their tasks are in my list. This allows them to update me if their task has become more urgent or if some tasks need to be delegated elsewhere. Due to the pandemic I have been working from home. I make sure I keep my calendar up to date so my managers can see what clients’ work I am due to work on. As a result of keeping organised I have been able to work effectively and continue to work from home without being furloughed as a Trainee – showing that my managers have trust in me to work independently.

Abby is an alumni of Bottisham Village College alumni, and works as a Trainee Accountant for Whiting & Partners and as part of her apprenticeship, attends First Intuition Accountancy College for ‘off the job training’ 20% of her time. 

Ready to start your journey to becoming an apprentice? Here are some useful resources to help you on your way:

  • National Apprenticeship Service  – search for opportunities as well as watch videos about current apprentices.
  • Get In Go Far – government funded website on apprenticeships
  • Not Going to Uni
  • Plotr  – a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about career options. There’s lots of information about apprenticeships, interesting articles to inspire you, and lots more.
  • Student Ladder – learn more about a range of opportunities including ‘School Leaver Programmes’, which are also known as Higher Apprenticeships.

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