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Apprenticeships - An alternative to university

Mason Bean, who joined Deloitte’s BrightStart higher apprenticeship programme in 2017, talks about why he decided on an apprenticeship to start his career in accountancy.

I studied Accounting at A-level at a large sixth form college in Bristol. One of my teachers had some audit experience and suggested I should pursue this as a career after believing it would be a role that would suit me.

I didn’t consider university and didn’t even register for ACAS. I felt that I suited learning in a work environment, and thought that earning whilst working and living at home was the best choice for me.

Why did you choose Deloitte’s BrightStart apprenticeship?

I extensively researched Deloitte alongside the other ‘Big 4 firms’ and applied for a role with Deloitte as well as at another firm. I chose Deloitte after getting to know people during the application process, gaining the impression that the firm had a strong culture and I felt this environment would suit me.

I also felt that the audit division would suit me most over other areas of the business. This is because I like to work with a variety of different people and felt that (before COVID hit of course), visiting different client sites instead of working primarily in the office would be more interesting.

The main thing about Deloitte’s BrightStart higher apprenticeship that caught my eye was the responsibility given to you right from the start. Other programmes I saw offered a rotational structure where you had six months or so in each area of the business. This didn’t really appeal to me as it sounded like it wouldn’t give you much ownership over your work. In addition, with the four-year BrightStart apprenticeship I did in Audit, you work towards the ACA qualification which was also a big attraction.

What was the application process like?

For me, the recruitment process was great. It only took a few months and I received the offer from Deloitte nine months before I was due to start. The offer came in quite early on in the academic year so I knew in December what grades I would need to get in my A-levels that summer to join the firm in September. Being incredibly excited about starting at Deloitte ensured I stayed motivated and committed to passing my A-levels and meeting their entry requirements.

Having an offer put me at ease about what my future held, and right from the start reassured me that Deloitte was invested in me as an individual. In fact, it was a big relief as I was someone fixed on an apprenticeship and had not applied for a place at university.

Where are you now?

I’m very happy to say I completed my four-year apprenticeship in July 2021 and am now a qualified chartered accountant and a member of the ICAEW. When I look back on the last four years, I can recognise how much I have grown. This includes the knowledge gained with passing exams and through the knowledge gained on how an audit is performed and how certain balances are tested.

The best thing about the internal training at Deloitte is the variety of the technical training you receive and how it changes as you progress and gain more knowledge and experience. I’ve also had a chance to develop my soft skills, for example training on how to maintain relationships with difficult clients.

One of the things I enjoy the most in my role at Deloitte is the team spirit and culture within my broad team and the wider firm in general. Everybody is there to give advice or assistance and from day one you are well and truly treated as ‘one of the team’ once you take your first step into the building, or ‘virtual step’ as the case may be.

What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?

One clear positive of ‘earning while learning’ is the fact that I have a source of income, which my friends have not gained whilst being at university. In my team, BrightStart apprentices are given the same opportunities as graduates, so there is no clear incentive to attend university. We all still work towards the ACA qualification, albeit apprentices taking one year longer than graduates. On the other hand, if you start the apprenticeship at age 18 and it all goes smoothly, you’ll be qualified by the time you’re 22 years old. I guess you miss out on the ‘uni experience’ that everybody talks about. However, whilst working you still have the weekends to enjoy yourself, so in all honesty, I don’t think I’ve missed out on that too much!

I am now an Assistant Manager within Southern Financial Services Large & Complex Audit. My main roles include having oversight over the more junior team members of the team whilst sharing knowledge gained in my first few years at Deloitte with them, liaising with internal specialists and taking more ownership over the more difficult insurance specific judgemental balances.

The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2022 is “Build the Future”.

#NAW2022 #BuildTheFuture #AskAnApprentice

Deloitte is a supporter of National Apprenticeship Week. By sharing our stories, we would like to encourage other employers to consider how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and at the same time help them build a workforce ready for the future.

You can find out more on our apprenticeship on our careers pages – we offer both higher and entry level apprenticeships.

Deloitte's virtual Spring careers festival

Deloitte’s virtual Spring careers festival is underway - a programme of virtual events that potential applicants can join, as well as parents, teachers and careers advisors. It’s open to everyone and focused on helping you learn more and make career decisions. Events range from discover sessions, where people can chat online with Deloitte people about different opportunities at our firm, upskill sessions – on demand or live – to boost your strengths or find out more about our assessment process, as well as ‘Meet Deloitte’ sessions.