Young accountant Antonia Brown visited Brooke Weston to talk to our Sixth Formers about different routes into the profession. She was recruited by Grant Thornton under their school leaver programme two and a half years ago. Now she has only 12 months and four more exams to complete before she is a fully qualified accountant. She spoke to our Year 12 students about the firm and their training schemes at school leaver and graduate levels and beyond.
She said: ‘When I was in Sixth Form I was applying to universities to study economics and accounting. However the HR representative at Grant Thornton talked me through their School Leaver programme. From start to finish the application process took only a month. Once I was offered the job I thought I would be silly to turn it down because it would be a much more competitive market at graduate level.
‘I went straight onto the ACCA programme which comprises 14 exams. You take your first three, which are computer-based, within the first three months of joining the firm. The others, which are split between skills and professional exams, take place every year in December and June. Students are now offered the AAT qualification which gives them exemptions from the first three exams.
‘The transition from school to full time work is hard, especially if you are working towards your qualification on top. However, knowing that your pay is linked to your exam passes is quite a good incentive and just the qualification itself is valuable. By the age of 22 you could be earning around £32,000 a year. As part of my job I go around schools giving students more information on Grant Thornton and the opportunities that they offer for young people. The students here were keen to learn more and they asked quite a lot of questions.
‘For me the best thing about Grant Thornton is the opportunity to meet lots of different people because you go out to clients and are given responsibility quite early on. In your first year you are probably assisting others and then in your second year you will be given the same jobs but you will be the one in charge so you can see yourself progressing and taking on more responsibility.
‘There are three main routes, Accounts Preparation, Audit and Tax. My advice would be to get your foot in the door with a full time job. The pay is great, the training is second-to-none and the support from the company is why I would sell Grant Thornton itself as a firm. I would recommend accountancy as a profession just for the variety of people you work with and the scope of the jobs that you can be involved in.’