Why I Chose My School Leaver Programme in Accountancy

Want to get ahead in the finance industry, without the headache of university debt? Well take a look at what Thomas Aylott had to say when we caught up with him about the BDO School Leaver Programme. He’ll qualify as a fully chartered accountant without paying a penny, plus he'll have five years of work experience under his belt. Nice one.

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Why did you decide to undertake a School Leaver Programme and how did you decide what to study?

I decided to undertake the BDO School Leaver Programme because it's an excellent opportunity to gain a very well respected qualification while gaining invaluable on the job work experience. It also has the additional benefit that you get paid at the same time.

What made you choose to study a School Leaver Programme over an apprenticeship or university route?

The large increase in university fees was a serious factor in deciding to undertake this programme, as I would gain a qualification while being paid, instead of paying for it.

What features of this particular programme made it appealing to you? Perhaps there was a certain practical element or theoretical module which piqued your interest for example?

Audit interests me as it gives you detailed insight into the operations of a range of large companies.

Why did you feel a School Leaver Programme was the best training option for banking, finance or accountancy? Perhaps this decision was related to the amount of practical in branch work you would experience for example?

This was the best decision for me as the qualification awarded on completion, the ACA,  is highly sought after and difficult to achieve. I will also qualify in just five years, compared to six if I’d gone to university.

How many hours do you spend on your programme each week? Was this a factor in your decision to undertake one?

Within a normal week I will often not spend any time working on my programme, however when it comes to exam periods I will often spend two hours a night on revision for about a month.

What resources/materials did you use to make your decision on further banking, finance or accounting education?

I researched the School Leaver Programmes at a variety of accounting companies.

How much responsibility do you have on your banking, finance or accountancy programme? Did this affect your decision to study a School Leaver Programme?

I have a lot of responsibility in my role, which makes the job all the more enjoyable. You feel like an important part of the team.

What is the most challenging element of undertaking an School Leaver Programme? And the most enjoyable? Has this surprised you?

The most challenging part of the programme is during the exam periods: coming home from a day’s work and  revising  in the evening. But this is also the most enjoyable, as after a few hard weeks you achieve the result you’ve been working for. There is no better feeling than success.

Do you think choosing an School Leaver Programme has boosted your employability prospects? In what ways?

This has definitely improved my employability: at the time of qualification, I will have an extra two years of experience at my job, compared to university graduates with far less experience.

What career do you hope your School Leaver Programme will path the way into? Did you know this when you applied, or has your ambition been influenced further during the course of your programme?

I hope that my programme will eventually lead to me being made a partner of the firm. This has been my ambition for the past few years, as I have really enjoyed my job and want to progress.

Where do you see yourself working a year on from completing your School Leaver Programme? How is your programme helping you work towards this goal?

I see myself staying with the firm. The job prospects are great and my colleagues are some of the most fantastic people I have ever met.

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