National Apprenticeship Week, Jessica Spencer EY, Q&A
10th February 2022, 2:32 pm
To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Jessica Spencer shares her experience as an EY apprentice so far. Jess joined EY in 2020 and is based in the Manchester office, she currently works in the Private tax team. Jess shared her experience of the apprenticeship programme at EY and what it’s been like to start her career during the pandemic.
- Tell us about your role?
“I’m currently in my second year of the Level 7 Business Apprenticeship programme at EY, studying towards an ACA professional qualification with the ICAEW. I work in the EY Private tax team based in Manchester with a team of 20 people, but I also work with a range of other colleagues across the North of England from our Leeds, Liverpool, and Newcastle offices.
“My role is really varied and I’ve had an opportunity to work with Private and family-owned businesses, as well as multinational enterprises and high-net-worth individuals, building up my technical knowledge.”
- Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?
“When I finished my A Levels, I initially went to the University of Bath to do a degree in Civil Engineering. Although, a few months in I realised that I wasn’t enjoying the course and was missing hands-on practical experience. Knowing I would have to wait a few more years before I could complete an industrial placement, I decided to take the leap and left university, in search of other higher education opportunities and qualifications.
“At the time, my sister was doing a degree apprenticeship in software engineering, which encouraged me to explore potential apprenticeship opportunities. My family were really supportive, and I spoke to a tutor at my sixth form who brought to light the opportunities the Big Four offered in accountancy apprenticeships. This led to me applying for a Tax apprenticeship position at EY, which I felt would be well-suited to my skillset and interests.”
- Why did you choose to work at EY?
“Initially I chose to work at EY as I was keen to work in the Tax service line, but as I began to research more about the firm, I felt that it came across as a really people orientated business too. Before I joined I watched a video of Victoria Price, UK&I Private Tax Leader, discussing how EY had supported her career flexibility – she is a fantastic role model, and I can’t believe I am now part of her team!
“EY has a big focus on diversity and inclusion and they also have a variety of employee-run networks, so there’s something for everyone to get involved in. I joined the EY Women’s Network not long after I started at EY and often attend their webinars. EY has plenty to offer in terms of career development including secondment opportunities, in the UK and internationally – something I am interested in pursuing later down the line.”
- What has it been like working virtually? How do your team/manager ensure you are supported?
“Beginning my apprenticeship virtually has been challenging at times but my EY colleagues have gone above and beyond to make sure that I am supported and happy. Even before I joined in September 2020, EY set up a virtual ‘offer holder’ day in August which gave me chance to meet others in same position as me. This was really helpful as I found we all had similar questions about the apprenticeship and EY in general.
“My team have been really supportive and have provided me with opportunities to learn and experience much more than I hoped the apprenticeship route would provide. I was also assigned a buddy and a counselling manager when I joined. It’s great to know that I have two people that I can ask anything to. My counsellor also supports with my career objectives and progression. I also have an apprenticeship coach who is there to advise on anything related to qualifications, exams or personal circumstances.”
- What has it been like moving to hybrid working?
“I have enjoyed the move to hybrid working – it means I can split my time between the office, home and client site.
“As I began coming into the office, I didn’t realise how much I needed the social interaction as a new joiner – despite all the virtual events, I enjoy coming into the office to see people. At the moment, I do two days in the office and three from home, which works well for me. I co-ordinate with my team and other apprentices when I am in so I can make the most of seeing people and try to plan social events where possible too. When I work from home, I can be flexible with my own timetable – usually heading to a spin class at 5.30. after I’ve finished my work for the day.”
- Would you recommend an apprenticeship scheme to other school leavers?
“Yes definitely! I think apprenticeships offer the perfect combination of industry skills and further education, all whilst earning a competitive salary – it’s a ‘win-win’ situation.
“I had a taste of university, but it wasn’t for me and I think it’s important to realise there are other options available. I am glad apprenticeship programmes are increasingly getting the credibility they deserve as a prestigious and reputable alternative to university.
“I was fearful of leaving uni and felt I had failed but now I look back and realise it was the best decision I have made.”
- Do you have any advice for someone who is unsure whether to apply?
“Firstly, don’t eliminate the option of apprenticeships. I was close-minded and only considered the university route. And secondly, it’s important to do your research, there’s plenty of options available for further education. The application process in itself can be a great opportunity to develop your interview skills. You never know, it might just be for you.”