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Sophie left school with good GCSEs and went onto College to study A levels. She wanted to go to University to study Law, but then decided the subject wasn’t for her. Since she enjoyed working with numbers and was good at organisation, so instead thought she’d pursue a financial career.

But instead of going to University, Sophie decided to take up an Accountancy Apprenticeship to get ahead of graduates by gaining practical experience in an industry environment. She says, “In this profession, experience is far more valuable.” Sophie chose Eastleigh College because she felt it was the best College in the area for AAT training.

She has been studying for four years now, and likes the vibe here, “Everyone is really friendly and it’s a nice environment to be in. Because there are so many different courses going on, you don’t feel out of place– there are a few older people on my course who have kids, but you don’t feel like you’re in a College full of younger people. It has a nice community feel.”

Sophie comes to College one day a week, and spends the rest of her time working at Arthur Daniels & Company accountants in Fareham. Now studying Level 4 AAT, Sophie has built her confidence and has progressed as a more senior member of the team. She says, “I really enjoy it there, they’ve never made me feel like just the apprentice. They respect me as a member of the team, and we’ve just taken on a few more people so I’m now more senior with people coming to me to ask questions.”

One of Sophie’s favourite things to work on is setting up accounts for private limited companies, but she also enjoys helping people and managing projects from start to finish. This has made her consider a career in Management Accounting, which usually would involve working in one area such as Purchasing or Sales, to manage the teams and ensure each project is completed to standard.

Sophie advises that one of the most difficult topics in Accounting is the ‘Professional Ethics’ module at Level 3. This is the first extended writing exam, but Sophie has some top tips: “Some people fall down by thinking they have to write loads, but that’s not the case. You just need to get in all the key points. I recommend revising little and often, and also try explaining things to other people; if you can explain it well, it means you understand it.”


We’re told that University helps your personal development – I’ve heard it all before. So why can’t an Apprenticeship do the same? I get to learn while experiencing a career for real; it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.


The Apprenticeship route was definitely the right choice for Sophie, and she is pleased that she didn’t choose to go to University. The experience she has gained has given her practical use of her knowledge, and has given her a better understanding of the industry – to the extent that she is already in a great position to plan her career progression!

Her advice to young people just finishing their GCSEs, or people who are looking to try out a new course, is to picture yourselves where you want to be and work backwards from that. She says, “If you don’t need a degree to do what you want to do, don’t go to Uni. I’m over £30,000 better off than a graduate and I have work experience and references which prove I can do the job, which they don’t have.

“Similarly, if you don’t know what you want to do, don’t go to University just for the sake of it. Getting experience in the working world could help you decide what you want to do.”

Apprenticeships are a great way to get ahead in learning real workplace skills that are invaluable to employers, whilst gaining a qualification in the field. Speak to our Apprenticeship Experts on to see what Apprenticeships we have available, or visit our Accountancy careers page to learn more about the AAT courses.