Apprenticeships are a way to gain the skills, knowledge and experience you need to get into many careers. They combine work, training, and study, letting you 'earn while you learn'. Saima, from PwC, shares her story.
Why did you choose the programme?
I chose the programme when I was deciding what to do with my future. I held a place at university to study international development, but I realised I didn’t enjoy classroom-based learning, and much preferred a more practical method of working. I knew more companies were offering apprenticeships, and had some friends who were looking into working at PwC, so thought I’d see if it was right for me. I found the idea of student debt daunting and, by choosing an apprenticeship, I would not only be avoiding debt, but I would be earning money instead.
What have you gained from the experience so far?
I’m working towards getting my junior management consulting qualification with Kaplan, which includes studying business environment and finance. In the job itself, I’ve learnt how to better communicate with people of all grades, and gained confidence in group speaking and presenting. I’ve been exposed to new types of technology, and have increased my ability on programs like Excel. I’ve also learnt how to work well under pressure, and how to deliver high-quality pieces of work in short spaces of time.
Did you have any hesitations before applying?
I come from a family where everyone did a degree and took the traditional path of education and going to university. Nobody in my circle had heard of apprenticeships, and my parents were certain they wanted me to go into higher education. I’ve realised, after to talking to more partners and directors, that it’s the willingness to learn and your attitude that help you to succeed! I overcame my hesitations by asking other people who had decided on the apprenticeship route, and did lots of research around what the programme offered.
What does the programme offer you in terms of career progression?
In a year’s time, I will join ‘Foundation for the Future’, which is the graduate scheme PwC offer in consulting. This means, I’ll be on the exact same pathway as someone with a degree, except I will be doing this a year earlier than my peers, with none of the debt. Once joining ‘Foundation for the Future’, we are the same grade as someone with a degree, and there is nothing to differentiate a higher apprentice from a graduate, in terms of opportunities and career progression.
Where are you now?
I’m now on my second rotation in consulting, and have been given the opportunity to work on international development, which is what I wanted to study at university. This is fantastic as it means I get to work on something I’m passionate about. I’m also about to sit my first two exams for my consulting qualification, which will leave me with three exams to complete until I’m fully qualified.
What would your advice be for someone considering applying for an apprenticeship?
My advice if you are considering applying would be to just go for it! You’re not going to lose anything by applying. When I joined last year, I started in the tax department, and soon realised it wasn’t for me. That didn’t mean the end of the road for me, as my career coach supported my move to consulting, which I now love. If you’re worried about going into a career too quickly, and it being the wrong thing for you, you can always change!
Interested in applying? Check out the apprenticeships on offer at PwC.