One of the main things that appealed to me was the thought of independence gained through working in a professional environment, which didn’t seem possible through going to University. I will admit that I wasn’t aware just how much of a wide and far reaching firm PwC was, and certainly would not have been able to predict the experiences I’ve had over the last year alone! As a School and College leaver you qualify as a Chartered Accountant in just the same away as a graduate, just without the 3 years of university debt! The idea of working combined with learning really appealed to me, although it’s a challenge to balance college and work based learning, I would always prefer to be busy and push myself. The feeling of kick-starting and progressing your career from the age of 18 was something I always favoured; for me I couldn’t see the logic in delaying my career progression, the opportunities were out there, it was just up to me to go and find them!
When I first joined the firm I found the idea of speaking to a lot of people daunting, and I didn’t have the confidence to speak to senior members of staff for fear of making a mistake. Through the people I have met and the situations I have experienced I have overcome these fears, and now I hardly recognise the person I was when first starting out. I have the confidence to not only discuss my work, but also to challenge and collaborate with a variety of different people based at a range of organisations around the globe. Through college work you gain the academic and theoretical skills to help you with your exams, and through your work you develop your professional and communication skills.
During sixth form I was often asked which university I was going to, rather than what my plans were after college. I was also worried that my A-Levels were not going to support what I wanted to do as they were not maths based - only when I joined did I realise that this really isn’t important.
To forge a path of your own and go against the norm felt like a challenge, but I trusted myself and my instincts and accepted the job offer with PwC. Within the first few weeks I knew it was the right decision, and now I could not imagine doing anything else. I realise now that my hesitations were due to misinformed and outdated views around apprenticeships and what they can offer.
The School and College Leaver programme essentially fast-tracks you, after 4 years of technical exam training, you will become a Chartered Accountant. Not only have you had a head start in terms of exams and qualification, but the accompanying 4 years of practical work experience are invaluable, for both your career and personal development. By gaining experience from a younger age it will allow you to build up a diverse skill-set, a strong professional network and had the chance to try a variety of work a lot sooner than most of your peers.
I’m halfway through my second year with PwC, working in the Leeds office. I have completed 6 certificate level exams and I’m getting ready to start preparations for the professional level exams in March. I’ve already been given the opportunity to experience a range of different client work and engagements, from higher education reviews, to utility companies, to controls processing and even some sustainability work performed in the Ivory Coast! I feel lucky to have been able to develop in the way I have and can’t wait to see what the next few years bring with my career at PwC.