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After leaving school and deciding on an apprenticeship, Humza faced the same obstacles that most school-leavers face: “How can I get into the career that I want?” and, “Where can I get the work experience?”
With the grades already under his belt, he came to WhiteHat to begin his journey towards an Accounting Apprenticeship — and by sitting down with our talent team, he came up with a game plan to increase his chances of being successful at interview stage. He decided on work experience as the best way for him to get his CV noticed and get exposure to the workings of an accountancy firm, become familiar with the functions of the teams, identify his weak areas and then develop the hard and soft skills needed in that role, from the software to telephone and email correspondence.
Humza is now a Trainee Accountant Apprentice at GC Accountants, completing his advanced level Assistant Accountant Standard. Read on to find out how he did it…
Walk us through your WhiteHat experience, how did you feel?
When I first came into WhiteHat I was told I needed more experience to do an AAT apprenticeship, and I was not able to do a Business Administration apprenticeship due to the qualification I was already holding. This really made me realise that the only way I could progress any further was to gain that experience… which did push me a lot.
How did you go about getting more experience?
I emailed lots of different companies who were advertising on a job search website which listed their contact details. Most of them weren’t advertising for apprenticeship roles, but I just decided to contact them directly to see if they were willing to offer me work experience. Luckily for me, a London-based recruitment agency replied and offered me a couple of months of work experience in their accounting team! Being resilient and sending out lots of applications was definitely key to landing a placement.
Before your work experience, what were the areas that you struggled with?
Before my work experience I struggled in understanding the technical language spoken within a business, and struggled using certain software programmes as I had no experience before. I had never really dealt with customers or speaking with people in a professional manner — I had to deal with some tough customers over the phone, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the shadowing and first-hand experience.
What are a few things that the work experience helped you with?
From my work experience I was able to receive exposure to a real life work environment, which also allowed me to develop my teamwork skills as I had to communicate with various departments to complete my tasks. Another area they helped me with was using Sage 50, a common bookkeeping software. I wanted to feel confident that I could be useful to the team from day one of my apprenticeship.
How would order you order the importance of the skills you learnt in the workplace?
From most to least important: teamwork skills, attention to detail, accounting software, exposure to a work environment.
How has the work experience prepared you for your role at GC Accountants?
The work experience played a massive part in preparing me for my role at GC Accountants. It has given me a real understanding of what is expected of me in a busy work environment and what type of tasks I would be getting involved in.
What advice would you give to others thinking about an apprenticeship with little experience?
My advice would be to look for any kind of experience that is available — this can include working in retail, as it will show an employer that you are able to work in a busy work environment and have a customer service experience.