As I was leaving school, I never considered Higher Education as something I wanted or needed for my career. In my mind, I wanted to get into the workplace and earn my place! As I later found, after spending 4 years working an average of 120 hours a week across a full-time and 2 part-time jobs, everything people say about working ‘smart not hard’ was true. I had become a Senior Account Manager focused on SAP acquisitions for a leading technology recruitment firm. Although this was enjoyable, I found more of an affinity for the customer and client relations over the normal recruitment cycle. However, after scouring the marketplace, I found that without a degree there was no real opportunity to find a foot hold into consulting until I found out about the “Degree Apprenticeship” Scheme. After in depth research about the firms offering it and their schemes, I was very lucky to be accepted onto the EY Digital Degree Apprenticeship programme and started in London in 2018.
The programme is 3 years long, and I will come out with a degree (Mine will be a BSc in Digital & Technology Solutions) from Ada, National College for Digital Skills, a Level 6 Apprenticeship, 3 years’ work experience and no University debt.
Today, having just completed Year 2 of the programme, I can look back at my experience and reflect. Over the last 2 years, I’ve spent time working on client sites across the Channel Islands, London and the Midlands. I have covered a wide array of roles spanning across Business Architecture, Project Management and Transformational Strategy. I have learnt programming, Programme Lifecycle Management and User Design through college and have become professionally certified in TOGAF (Business Architecture) through EY sponsorship.
Whilst the adjustment from being at home in Bristol to renting in London has been eye-opening and terrifying at times, with each role I have gained not only a varied technological experience but also friends and colleagues across the firm.
Throughout the scheme I have particularly enjoyed 2 main areas of the job:
- The daily interaction I have with clients: being inside a variety of clients gives me a real insight into how different organisations are run. As Consultants, we also get to both support and present at all business levels right through to C-suite. This allows us to grow and develop working relationships which are really beneficial
- The diversity of the role: There really is no such thing as an average day in consulting. One day you can be supporting a new bid for work, another you’ll be supporting an integral merger or implementing a multimillion-pound programme anywhere in the world. This makes the time fly – you are always seeing something new and problem solving through critical thinking
As we progress towards the end of the programme, I am both excited for the future and grateful for the opportunity. This scheme has supported my career change and given me the opportunity to obtain a degree whilst working for one of the “Big 4”.
My advice for anyone leaving school is to really consider your options. Whilst you may feel pressure by the university route remember that there are other options out there for you and an earn-whilst-you-learn approach could work for you! If you enjoy travel, a truly varied workday and are interested in working with exciting global clients then make sure you get involved in a Consulting Experience Day with any firm (either through a Q&A or a workshop) and ask your school or University Career counsellor how you can get involved.