Hannah Lea OW 2015

After leaving School Hannah joined Ernst and Young’s School Leaver Programme


Did you know what you wanted to do when you left school?
I knew that I always wanted to work in the finance industry for a large firm as I was keen to be part of a vast community.

Why did you apply for an apprenticeship?
The idea of having a qualification period of a year less than if I was to apply as a graduate, combined with the absence of student debt attracted me to applying for an apprenticeship. I was also keen to build formal relationships with clients and senior co-workers.

What were you looking for in an apprenticeship?
A professional and friendly environment and a company that was amongst the world leaders in its market. I was also keen to choose an apprenticeship that considered their graduates just as valuable as their school leavers.

Training for an apprenticeship includes undertaking qualifications whilst working full-time, how do you organise your work/study balance to ensure you complete your studies on time?
More work is always on offer and so it is easy to get lulled into working longer hours than you are contracted to do, and with no study leave, this can make weekdays seem very long. As soon as I arrive at a new client, I make sure I let the manager of the team know that I have an exam coming up and so I would like to leave on time every day. Everyone in the team will have done exams at some point and so most people are sympathetic and keen for you to not be working long hours before your exams.

What lessons have you learnt in your first 6 months?
The importance of asking questions when I do not understand things has been the biggest lesson I have learnt so far. When at a client, seniors will often be busy with their own work and may not take enough time to explain something in enough detail for you (someone who has never worked in the industry before) to understand. It can be difficult to ask questions when they seem so busy; however they would rather you ask questions and understand the task fully so that you are able to complete it to the best of your ability. It also ensures that you are learning and developing as much as possible.

What do you understand by working in a team, and what are three important attributes of a good team player?
Always being willing to accept a heavier workload in order to meet your team’s deadlines, not just your own. Ensuring that the documentation of your work is clear and easy to follow so that the person who is reviewing your work doesn’t have to spend half an hour working out what is going on. Making a good cup of tea.

Where do you see yourself in three to five years’ time?
After 5 years, I hope to have finished my qualification. After 3 years, I hope that I have built a strong network, both internally and with clients.

What advice would you give our current students when considering an apprenticeship scheme over a full-time higher education courses?
Don’t fall down the trap of believing that apprenticeships involve the stereotypical tasks of photocopying and filing. The work has been far from easy and you are always contributing to the team’s end goal and at no point so far have I felt like a ‘spare part’.

What was your biggest influence whilst at WGS?
I always maintained a positive attitude when at school, especially in sixth form and I’d like to think this contributed to the overall atmosphere amongst my peers.

What were your first impressions of WGS?
Having joined WGS in year 6, I quickly found that WGS had a strong community spirt amongst both its teachers and students. I found the environment friendly and easy to learn it and this did not change as I worked my way up the school. The level of support offered by all of the teachers during exam periods was vital and helped me to get the grades I needed at GCSE and A Level.

Why did you choose to come to WGS?
The combination of sporting success and academic achievement initially attracted me to WGS and being succeeding at such a high level as part of the 1st VII netball team as well as achieving the grades I wished to obtain meant that I was not disappointed.

Did you have a favourite teacher?
I was positively influenced by all the teachers that I worked closely with during my time at WGS; however if I had to choose a few favourite teachers, then they would be Dr Guard and Mr Charlsworth as they always grew my passion for History. Mrs Causebrook and Mrs Dyer were also highly influential during my time at school as they always pushed myself, and the rest of the netball team, to be the best sportswomen we could be.

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