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Starting a Apprenticeship after graduating from Uni

  • Article

Tianna Oti shares her experience of starting an Apprenticeship after the traditional higher education route, and the challenges she overcame while on this journey.

Following my GCSEs I went on to do the International Baccalaureate (IB). That gave me exposure to a broad range of subjects because at the time I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do.

After attending insight days with different banks, and following a summer working in finance at Shell, I realised I wanted to do something finance and business related.

Going to university

I looked for degree programmes which had an accounting and finance base, and ended up studying a degree programme in audit in partnership with PwC.

I really enjoyed it and I learnt a lot from being at PwC. Some of the skills which I've been able to apply in my current role were: adapting to different situations, embracing criticism, working within a team, leading teams, as well as the technicalities of audit.

Ultimately, however, I found that audit wasn't for me. I wanted something that every day was different and a challenge. So upon completing my degree, I looked for jobs and programmes in finance that would allow me to learn.

Many don’t realise they can do an Apprenticeship once they graduate

Studying an apprenticeship after uni

I applied for RSA, which is an insurance business. Following my application I found out that it was an Apprenticeship.

After being successful for several different positions, I was drawn to RSA because of the Apprenticeship attachment, as well as the fact that it was a finance based role. It would allow me to study towards my accounting exams and work on my personal development.

The programme is supported and structured, and I am also getting paid to work.

I wish there was more awareness of Apprenticeships, especially for students at universities, because many don’t realise they can do an Apprenticeship once they graduate. I used to think it was something you just go into after secondary school or sixth form.

Additional challenges

What made this process a little bit more tricky was that I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January 2020, and I got this role in September 2020.

The months before I joined RSA were quite difficult for me because I didn't know what and how fast things were going to happen. I didn't know how aggressive my form of MS was at the time.

I was learning how to get a grip of that at the same time as trying to apply for jobs and finish off my degree. It was quite hard but I think having the support that's offered on the Apprenticeship has given me an ounce of comfort because I know there's someone there that I can talk to or get advice from.

There was a lot out there to help me with my disability. I had a good relationship with one of my tutors and if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have known what support I could have gotten.

I think that's another misconception about Apprenticeships. You don't think that you're going to get that support. I didn't think I would. I thought that I would just get handed a textbook alongside working, but it was more than that.

The support comes in multiple ways. It's not just development support, but also personal. It helps you balance your working life with any problems that you may have. It’s quite helpful when you're making the transition from university to a full time job.

Because of COVID I studied Live Online. With my MS, this helped as well because I wasn't able to be as mobile at times and it helped that I could study from home and after work. Also all of the sessions are recorded and saved, so if you can't attend, you can always watch the recording back. I found them useful and I've passed all my exams, the first time, so far.

Support and further opportunities

I've been at RSA for a year now and had an amazing time. I've learned so much. The Apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to work while studying to become a chartered accountant.

I have regular catch ups with my talent coach who assesses me on my progress, gives me a training log, and sets me regular targets. I’m also allowed to invite my managers along to meetings, so there's a real sense of openness between my manager and my Kaplan talent coach.

I've also found the Apprenticeship to be a really good opportunity for me to learn a wide range of skills. I've been offered to attend courses such as business writing, how to analyse data and the Excel beginners, intermediate and advanced training. These are all things that help to build your confidence in your role.

Being offered these workshops by Kaplan is amazing, because had I not been on this course I might not have those foundations. With entry level roles, you're assumed to have known these things or you learn over time.

It's definitely made me more efficient in my work and positively reflected in my performance at RSA.

Advice for future apprentices

The advice I'd give someone else is just get stuck into it. If you do get onto Apprenticeship, make the most out of it and make the most out of the resources that are offered. Don't sleep on it, because there's a lot of opportunities out there that can come from doing little things, so take every single one.

I think what you put in is what you get out as well. So put the energy into developing yourself, you've been given the opportunity of this apprenticeship so make the most out of it.

Don't underestimate the impact. Maybe you think you don’t need to attend a little simple session like a business emails workshop. But you can learn something from it.

My Apprenticeship has helped me to develop in so many ways.

Find out more

To find out more about Apprenticeships and the programmes we offer, check out our Apprenticeship pages.