Case study: My apprenticeship “will open a lot of doors”

Christopher Hill is on five-year School Leaver Programme at BDO

Christopher Hill is on five-year School Leaver Programme at BDO

Eighteen-year-old Christopher Hill recently began a five-year School Leaver Programme at leading accountancy firm BDO. Here is his account of why he chose the vocational pathway over a university education.

“A lot of people my age think going to university is the normal thing to do next, but I’m very career-focused and like being busy and getting on with things. This programme gives you a career with a reputable firm, a well-sought-after professional qualification and five years of work experience. By the time my friends have finished university I will have almost qualified, so I feel it gives you a head start in your career. The application process is quite demanding. There’s an initial application and then online psychometric testing. Following that I was invited in to the office to have an interview with a manager, do a presentation and have a final interview with a partner. I was 17 then and even though I’d done some practice interviews with teachers at school, it was still fairly nerve-wracking. You really need to make sure you’ve researched about the firm and the scheme you’re applying for.

Every week is different. You’re put on different jobs, checking draft accounts, setting up working papers for an audit, getting explanations from clients and testing financial statements. You’re definitely in at the deep end and have to talk confidently with the clients and ask them for information and explanations. BDO has a very supportive culture, so although it’s a steep learning curve, it’s very enjoyable and you’re meeting lots of new people. The worst part is probably the hours, because some days you may not get home until 10 or 11pm and then you still have to be up at 7am, but not every week is like that.

It’s a really good alternative to university, but you do need to be prepared to work hard – this isn’t an easier route. I’ve no regrets about not going to university and I know this will open a lot of doors.”