As an AAT apprentice, your time is split between studying for your qualification and gaining experience in your role at work. Rebecca Fidgett started studying with us in 2018. She began with a level 2/3 programme before progressing onto her level 4 studies as an apprentice. Having completed her AAT apprenticeship in 2021, Rebecca has now begun her ACCA qualification, also as an apprentice.
Rebecca knew during her A ‘levels that she wanted a career in finance but her journey was to prove less than easy, thanks to the global pandemic. Having started studying with us in-centre, Rebecca had to transition to virtual learning and as an AAT apprentice was unable to sit exams for a period of time.
Can you tell us a little about your background and why you chose to study accountancy?
During my GCSEs, business studies and maths were my two favourite subjects and I completed my work experience at a bank, giving me an insight into finance. I enjoyed working with numbers so decided to take accountancy as one of my A-Levels. Studying this as an A-level was when I realised that I had definitely made the right decision and wanted to pursue a career in finance. I knew that the accountancy qualification would set me up for where I wanted to be and I could achieve my potential if I worked hard.
Why did you choose an AAT apprenticeship?
I decided to take the apprenticeship route as I truly believed it was the best opportunity for someone wanting to pursue a career in accounting instead of taking the traditional university path. The benefits of learning on the job, as well as studying for the qualification meant that I was able to develop my knowledge of accounting at work whilst establishing the desired skills and behaviours throughout the apprenticeship scheme. To me, choosing an apprenticeship was the best decision I have ever made and has enabled me to progress in my career in the last 3 and a half years of working for MSC.
Can you tell us a little about what it’s like to study accountancy as an AAT apprentice?
Studying accountancy as an apprentice has been challenging but most importantly it has been very rewarding. The challenge of balancing work life with studying was a challenge when I first started. However, you learn to adapt to a healthy balance of what suits you best. Dealing with the uncertainties of Covid-19 was also something I had to take in my stride,
FI were brilliant and adapted to the ever-changing situation with the right help and support available to students whenever needed. The reward of gaining the AAT qualification is that it can set you up to progress in your career in Finance whilst at the same time giving you the wider business skills that employers look for such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. For me, gaining the AAT qualification has enabled me to gain more responsibility at work and take on more tasks that my manager believes I am capable of. I really enjoy my job and am thankful to the apprenticeship that I have been able to take away such important knowledge and skills into my career.
What would you say are the main benefits of an apprenticeship for the apprentice?
One of the main benefits of the apprenticeship scheme is that you get a dedicated skills coach who provides support throughout your apprenticeship. Having someone to talk to and ask any questions you may have helped me as a student. I knew that I was never alone in my journey. There is always someone there to offer guidance and support. The regular progress reviews between the apprentice, their line manager, and their skills coach give you the chance to discuss your progress both at work and in the apprenticeship and qualification. The structure of the apprenticeship gives the apprentice a solid learning plan for what they expect to achieve at the end of the scheme. It gives the apprentice not only an accountancy qualification but valuable life and business skills, knowledge, and behaviours that will prepare them for the future.
What support did you get from FI Chelmsford and how did you find studying with us?
I couldn’t fault FI Chelmsford for the support I received throughout my apprenticeship, they were brilliant. The global pandemic started just as I started my first level 4 course. I remember thinking I would end up having to delay my exams and courses as we couldn’t attend classes due to the lockdowns. However, FI kept students up to date all the time on what the plans were for our studies. We transitioned to virtual courses via Zoom where we were able to continue our studies at home throughout the pandemic. FI Chelmsford re-opened when safe to do so for exam purposes only. This allowed myself and other students to take their exams on-demand in a covid safe environment.
My skills coach Alice supported me throughout my journey and allowed me to re-sit a course that got disrupted due to covid. I didn’t fall behind and was able to take that exam later on in the year. FI also set up free weekly AAT revision sessions for all students. This was highly praised due to the continued support from tutors giving up their own free time in the evenings to help students who wanted to achieve their potential and pass their exams.
Studying with FI has been the best and I have just started the level 7 ACCA apprenticeship with them highlighting how much of a great training provider they are and continue to be. It is very clear that FI wants their students to succeed just as much as the student wants to themselves. Thank you to everyone at FI Chelmsford who helped me on my journey and enabled me to gain my very valuable AAT qualification.
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