Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator

Safa and Becky: our apprentice journeys

Safa, Public Sector Audit Associate

It was actually my cousin who told me about apprenticeships, and suggested I look into them as a career option. Whilst my school mentioned them, they were much more focused on university as the next step after A-levels. After initially being unsuccessful in applying for an apprenticeship, I started at university but always felt like it wasn’t the right option for me. I continued to search for apprenticeship opportunities, and was successful in my application to Grant Thornton, joining the firm in April 2023. One of my friends had joined the firm when I started at university, so whilst we’re in different service lines it’s great to be able to work together.

As I joined out of the trainee cycle, I was thrown straight into work, which was eye-opening, but I didn’t have any exams and it was a good way to get a realistic view of the role. I then joined with the September ’23 trainee intake and started to take my exams towards the end of the year. At the moment, I am finding the balance OK with work and study, we have our day at college each week and I tend to study in an evening which works well for me alongside the study leave we get before exams.

I have grown a lot since starting my career here, in a different way to how I think I would have if I had stayed at university. I am working with so many different people, from fellow associates right through to Partners and clients, and I learn from everyone I talk to. I wouldn’t say I was an introvert before I started, but I certainly wasn’t as confident and the apprenticeship as well as the culture at Grant Thornton have really helped me mature considerably. 

The standout moment of my career so far is when I was nominated for PSA Star of the Month, which is a recognition scheme for associates. It’s a nomination by colleagues, so a really nice way of sharing recognition and being recognised for my efforts by managers is a real confidence boost.

Becky, Audit Partner

An apprenticeship always felt like the natural direction for me to go in. I did a vocational qualification rather than a-levels, as I learn so much better through ‘doing’ and seeing what I have learnt in action rather than through lectures and classroom-based learning.

At the time, apprenticeships within professional services weren’t where they are today, and I was the first school leaver that the firm I started with took on, they quite literally made up the apprenticeship programme for me after I expressed an interest in it at an event. Each year as I progressed, they would have to decide where I sat in the salary matrix, and what grading I was on, as I was progressing alongside graduates, but I was on the school leaver programme.

From the moment I started, I knew I wanted to become a Partner. I had amazing role models, many of whom I am still in touch with, and it’s now great to be able to be in the position to be the role model for others and show what you can achieve through a career in professional services. I love audit, and aside from a couple of secondments to business development and another audit team, I have remained in the area for my whole career.

I joined Grant Thornton in 2012, as a fairly new parent, I was ready to progress, but the opportunities weren’t presenting themselves where I was, and the work life balance was non-existent. I joined the firm as an Associate Director, and was promoted to Director in 2013, before being made a Partner in 2015 – whilst on maternity leave – which is a great example of the inclusiveness and culture within the firm.

I think apprentices play a really important role in the future of the firm, and I am always encouraging the teams to consider hiring school leavers. There are skills I learnt as an apprentice that I still use today, starting as an apprentice at 17, I was thrown straight into teamworking, working alongside colleagues of all levels and this is something that I still do today, as well as leading teams.

My advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship would be, to absolutely do it. It’s the perfect balance of working and education, and you can put into practice what you learn straight away.

05 February 2024 at 3:49 PM