Harry Edwards started with EY in September 2015, working as an apprentice in Business Tax Services. He was recently a finalist for AllAboutSchoolLeavers’ School Leaver of the Year prize. We caught up with Harry to find out why – after doing Maths, Economics, Politics and Geography – he chose his programme over university, and why he’s glad he made that choice.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship rather than going to university?
Doing an apprenticeship had never been something I had considered before finding the application for the EY Business Apprenticeship online. I had always been set on attending university to study Economics, then seeking a job in professional services. I had even received all of my university offers when I applied to EY.
However, when I looked at my options in more detail I found that the EY Business Apprenticeship programme was the smarter choice - No university debt, earning a good salary from 18, exams paid for along with paid study leave and I will even be qualified as a chartered accountant one year younger than I would have been had I attended university first.
What attracted you to EY?
I had previously undertaken work experience with a different Big 4 firm and had found the experience very dull. This is contrasted with the vibrant atmosphere I feel at EY – from the very first time I visited the London office for my initial interview, I felt welcome. I also found it very attractive to have the opportunity to be part of a global firm, recognised as a household name for being one of the best in professional services.
How do you manage to balance work and study?
Balancing work with study was always my biggest concern when I started at EY. However, in my experience it has not been an issue. I have a very supportive team who appreciate how important my exams are. During periods of study they adjust my workload and allow me the flexibility to take time off to study whenever I feel it is necessary. It also helps to focus on the end goal, becoming a qualified chartered accountant, which is how I maintain my motivation when studying.
It means a great deal to me to be shortlisted for this award. I have worked hard since joining almost two years ago and it feels amazing to know that this is being recognised, not only by the people I work with on a daily basis, but by the wider firm.
Can you explain what working in Tax involves?
My role as a tax advisor is focussed on delivering tax credit claims for companies undertaking research and development in the UK. This has allowed me to work with many prestigious clients – Motor Racing, aerospace and defence manufacturers, television broadcasters and software developers, to name a few. The process involves in depth discussions about the new technologies the company has developed in order to determine if they qualify for the scheme, followed by an exercise to calculate the size of the tax repayment that the client can claim.
Due to the clients and nature of work, I find my role definitely transcends the traditional view that tax is boring – one day I can be talking to a jet engine manufacturer about how they developed a new engine, the next I could be talking to a chocolate manufacturer about the challenges encountered in developing a new product! I really enjoy this variation.
What does it mean to you to be shortlisted for School Leaver of the Year?
It means a great deal to me to be shortlisted for this award. I have worked hard since joining almost two years ago and it feels amazing to know that this is being recognised, not only by the people I work with on a daily basis, but by the wider firm. It shows that, just because I am a school leaver, the work I am doing for EY is taken seriously. I believe it is also a credit to my managers and leadership who have invested a great deal of time in my development, allowing me to perform above expectations.
What top tip would you give to any school leavers, teachers or parents who might be reading this?
My best advice would be to make sure you consider all your options carefully. The stigma attached to the word “apprenticeship” is a thing of the past – in many cases, such as mine, not going to university is a much more logical choice and I have no regrets with the path I chose to follow.
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