Accounting apprentice shares her top tips

Check out this testimonial from Hannah Coltart, who was recently named Visa Europe’s apprentice of the year for 2013. She was also given the award for “Outstanding Academic Achievement” and shortlisted for the Women of the Future Young Star Award.

When I started looking at the different options to enter the job market, I first thought that studying maths at university would be the right way to go about it. However, after some consideration I realised that a vocational route would be a quicker and cheaper way to reach my goal of becoming an accountant.

When doing some research on apprenticeships, I came across an opportunity to join Visa Europe and I thought it would be a great way of gaining vital work experience within a worldwide organisation. How many teenagers can say they work for such a notable organisation? So, after attending a competitive, multiple stage recruitment process consisting of online tests, interviews and an assessment centre, I was successful in achieving the apprenticeship. Now I am part of a four year apprentice scheme at Visa Europe gaining valuable financial experience and I’m loving it!

My top tips for budding apprentices:

  1. Ask for advice. There are different organisations that can guide you through the different steps to apply for an apprenticeship. One website I highly recommend is the National Apprenticeship Service, as they are a good starting point when seeking guidance. Ask questions or seek advice from people who are already working in your desired career – this is a great way to broaden your understanding on the area you’re interested in. It will also help you work out what steps you need to take to progress further.
  2. Expand your knowledge. Whatever department you want to work in, do some research on courses that will help you learn about the intricacies of the job. I wanted to work in accountancy, so looked into what courses I needed to complete to become a qualified accountant – in my case it was AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). I realised that even if I went to university to study maths, I would still have to study for accountancy qualifications after my degree. Therefore if I could skip the degree and the fees, this surely seemed like a more practical and logical option.
  3. Have a problem-solving attitude. Companies love people who can bring solutions to the problems they may face. Being an apprentice gives you the opportunity to come with a fresh pair of eyes to the organisation. So do not be afraid to contribute with your ideas as they’ll probably be quite unique and could fix a particular problem. Even if your idea is small, such as a minor tweak to a procedure, it could be very valuable to the team.
  4. Ask a lot of questions. By asking questions not only will you find out more about the company, but you will also show to your colleagues that you are interested in the business. As an apprentice, this is the perfect time to get as much information as possible so that you get the most out of your placement.
  5. Get involved. Either in a meeting, or at an event, be as proactive as possible. Try to also get involved with anything that may be out of your comfort zone – doing these things will make you grow as a person and evolve you into a well-rounded adaptable person.