How an apprenticeship kick-started my accountancy career

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Greenwich Council senior accountant, Jeanne Marke-Collier, believes in hard work and dedication to get what you want. She explains why she made the decision to spurn university to study AAT via an apprenticeship

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to do finance. I’m a very pragmatic person and I need answers. Maths was always my favourite subject at school and I was considering going to university to become an actuary. But I soon realised accountancy actually had a much broader career scope.

I applied for an apprentice role at the London Borough of Greenwich in the summer after I finished my first year of college and it became apparent that I could earn money while learning to do a job I enjoyed.

My apprenticeship sped up the process. I signed up to study the AAT Accounting Qualification by day release and before I even knew it I had four years of experience and a senior role in accountancy. Had I gone to university, I would have started in an entry-level position, with little or no experience, and a much longer route ahead of me, to get to where I am today.

Young people need proper guidance to realise their full potential. I’m very grateful that I’ve had a stable and supportive upbringing, but I’m also aware that not everyone is that lucky. As a volunteer at a youth centre I try to help other young people understand that there are benefits if you work hard and try.

It is not as bad as it seems when you watch the news. I help young people make informed choices about their general health, specifically sexual and reproductive health, and I’ve learnt a lot about myself through this work.

The greatest challenge is to not lose focus. All my peers are at university, partying, going out and living a life very different from mine. I’ve had to do my studies alongside working full-time and my priorities are different. I finished AAT last year in August and I’ve now started ACCA.

I often don’t have time to join my friends after work because I have to go home and study. In those cases it is sometimes hard to stay focused, but I know I need to in order to get to where I want to be. In the future I hope I’ll be in a position to manage other people.

I want to stay where I am now to get some more experience, build my portfolio and learn valuable skills, but eventually I want to move on to the city. My aim is always to do the best I can in the role I’m in and to go as far as possible within my profession.

More information about studying AAT via an apprenticeship is available online.

Jeanne Marke-Collier is a Senior Accountant at Royal Borough of Greenwich.

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