School leaver programmes give you a direct route into the world of work. They allow you to learn new skills, meet new people, and earn a wage while you’re learning. Not sure if it’s the right path for you? Georgina, from PwC, shares her story.
Why did you choose the programme?
One of the main things that appealed to me was the thought of independence gained through working in a professional environment. As a school and college leaver, you qualify as a chartered accountant in just the same way as a graduate, just without the three years of university debt! The idea of working, combined with learning, really appealed to me, and, 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!
What have you gained from the experience so far?
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.
Did you have any hesitations before applying?
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 – it was only when I joined I realised 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 I realise now that my hesitations were due to misinformed and outdated views around apprenticeships and what they can offer.
What does the programme offer you in terms of career progression?
The School and College Leaver programme essentially fast-tracks you, after four 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 four 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 skills set, a strong professional network, and the chance to try a variety of work a lot sooner than most of your peers.
Where are you now?
I’m halfway through my second year with PwC, working in the Leeds office. I have completed six certificate level exams, and I’m getting ready to start preparations for the professional level exams. 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!
Inspired by Georgina’s story? Check out the school leavers programmes available at PwC.