How will an apprenticeship help me get a job at a Big 4 firm?

Choosing what to do when you finish school is a big decision

The university degree versus apprenticeship debate is long-running – and it’s one that many students find themselves tackling. 

If you’ve got big career ambitions but you’re not sure about investing the time (and money) in a university degree - then a business apprenticeship could be the ideal route for you.

Corporate apprenticeship programmes are disrupting the career scene. They’re also an increasingly popular path for career-driven students who can’t wait to get stuck into the corporate world. 

Giving you the chance to earn while you learn, corporate apprenticeships are helping forward-thinking students forge their professional careers without having to get a degree. 

As Deloitte BrightStart apprentice, Lily-Jo, puts it; 

“Why go to university and get a degree when you can get into the workplace four years earlier, get four extra years of experience, and build a huge network of people that you can reach out to all over the world? It [was] a no-brainer to me.” 

For students like Lily-Jo, programmes like Deloitte’s BrightStart Higher Apprenticeships offer an opportunity to leap straight into the world of professional services. Covering everything from audit, tax consulting, real estate, technology and everything in between, the firm’s earn-while-you-learn programme is the ultimate hands-on alternative to a degree, and you’ll work towards a professional qualification. 

The application process varies depending on the career path you’re looking to pursue. “It was quite long from start to finish but definitely worth it. The final interview was the most challenging for me, especially the five minute presentation I had to give.” says BrightStart Apprentice Mollie Mahoney. 

Get the right support

But would-be apprentices get plenty of support from the get-go, as fellow BrightStart Apprentice – and tech enthusiast – Nikita, adds; 
“After filling out the initial application, I was invited to a workshop at Deloitte… the interviewer seemed nice and was interested in what I was talking about.” 

Giving you hands-on experience from day one, an apprenticeship mixes on-the-job training and study so you’ll still achieve the industry-recognised qualifications you need to climb the career ladder. 
You’ll also be paid a full-time wage while you’re working, and your study and training costs will be covered – so you’ll complete the programme totally debt-free. 
Sound good? Fellow BrightStart Apprentice, Mollie insists; “Having the freedom to be in charge of my own career so early on is amazing.”
Analyst apprentice Oliver says that his apprenticeship with Deloitte has been “the best introduction to the world of work”. While Audit apprentice, Jess Popkin insists that an apprenticeship gives you “an amazing chance to get ahead of the game and you’ll be working for one of the best companies.”

Taking anywhere from one to four years to complete, programmes like Deloitte’s BrightStart Higher Apprenticeship places you right in the mix with senior colleagues and mentors who’ll give you the skills, support and independence you need to succeed. 
As Nikita puts it; 
“When my managers give me feedback, they’re extremely helpful and patient, and always willing to answer questions. Even when we’re busy, they’re concerned about my personal development, encouraging me to push myself to the next step, with advice on how I can improve.” 

It’s this supportive culture and positive mindset that’s also helped Jess settle in and feel at home in the corporate world.

“The managers in my department are incredibly busy, but they still make time… [to] get to know us all as individuals, which I really appreciate. They stay positive all the time and this inspires me to be my best. I feel really proud to work at Deloitte. I feel I can be myself and my team are helpful and fun to be around.” 

What it's like to be an apprentice

Depending on your programme, you may be allocated a day each week – or a block of time – to complete the training or study element of your apprenticeship, too. 
Juggling work and study time can be a bit of an adjustment – especially when you throw work socials into the mix. But learning how to manage your schedule is part of the process, says Jess. 

“I assumed someone would check what I was doing every hour and tell me what to do. But, it is so different to school, I’m trusted to manage my own workload. It took me a while to get into the swing of it, but I’m really grateful for it now.” 

Though fellow BrightStart Apprentice, Mollie, also found time-management a challenge, the Consultant appreciates that it’s been a valuable skill to learn.

“Because I came straight from school which has a strict timetable, managing my own time was a new concept and felt like a pretty big jump. I love being treated like an adult though and I soon adapted.” 

Time management and decision-making are just some of the skills you can expect to learn as part of an apprenticeship. With a commitment to lifelong learning and career development, Deloitte’s programme offers plenty of opportunities to expand your wider skillset to gain an even more competitive edge. 

“There is so much training available. I’ve really developed my technical skills since joining; Data visualisation, for example, and using dashboard software” says Mollie.

Nikita, on the other hand, grasped every opportunity to develop her communication skills. As a result, the fellow BrightStart apprentice says her confidence has skyrocketed; “I’ve [been] able to go from the quiet girl at the back of the class to someone who’s given presentations in a room full of hundreds of people, and has walked through strategies with clients and managers.” 

Though no big transition is easy, an apprenticeship with a big firm means you’ll gain the skills, support and hands-on experience you need to get a head start on the career ladder. 

It’s also important to know the uni route isn’t the only way to gain the necessary qualifications. As Jess puts it; 

“There’s no set way to get where you want to be, as long as you’re willing to work hard.”

Apprenticeships are now recognised as an equal alternative to university – and are often a preferred route for students who prefer a hands-on learning experience.

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