As an ACCA Apprentice, your time is split between a working role and time studying for your qualification. Rebecca Bloomfield started studying with First Intuition Chelmsford as an AAT student and then started her apprenticeship to study ACCA. She began her studies in 2018 and qualified in 2021. Rebecca completed her A’ levels and was unsure about her next steps. Support at home and from an early mentor at her part-time job made her see that she was a natural fit for accountancy. An apprenticeship was a great way for Rebecca to qualify as it really suited the way she likes to learn
Rebecca studied with us in-centre. However, once the pandemic hit, there were periods when exams were not available to be sat. Her tuition also moved online. When exams did restart, Rebecca had to sit exams remotely for the first time. To qualify under these conditions is a great achievement.
We caught up with Rebecca and found out more about her accountancy apprenticeship, as well as how she coped in the pandemic.
Can you tell us a little about your background and why you chose to study accountancy?
I studied Maths and Economics as A ‘levels and knew I wanted to do something with one or both subjects but wasn’t sure where it would lead me. I’d applied for University and secured a place to read Economics and Maths but a couple of months before my A ‘level results were released; I had a major wobble about going down this path as I really couldn’t see where it would lead. I’ve always been a huge saver, even as a child, and having that as a mindset, I couldn’t comprehend paying out all of that money to not know why I was doing it. I spoke to my parents and said:
‘I’m not sure about this anymore and I really don’t know what I want to do’.
Mum and dad were supportive, and I took a gap year. I had a Saturday job at a farm shop and my employer there encouraged me to stay on but use the time to look for jobs and research what I wanted to do. She said I could stay as long as I wanted to and after a couple of months, they needed some extra help in the office.
At first, this was mostly admin tasks but after a while, the lady who worked in the office showed me how to use the accounting software. I began to do more and more of the basic accounting tasks, and she put me forward for a City and Guilds business admin qualification. I had a great relationship with this lady, and she knew that I was capable of more so without my knowing, she called Gascoynes, who were the company’s accountants, and asked if they were looking for a staff member. She told them she thought I’d be perfect for accountancy, and they asked for my CV.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I liked the idea of an apprenticeship for me because I’m a practical learner and have always learned best through doing. For me to excel in my studies, being in the job, learning on the job, and being given the time to study whilst working was invaluable. If I’d have done it whilst trying to work full-time, I would’ve had to find extra time to study. If I’d been working in a non-accountancy job, I don’t think I would’ve done as well with my studies. It also would’ve taken a lot longer. Knowing how I learned and liking the element of doing, I knew this was the right way for me. I found I could really apply what I was learning at work to my studies and vice-versa.
Can you tell us a little about what it’s like to study accountancy as an apprentice?
I found the whole apprenticeship well balanced. I felt I had enough study time, skills day sessions and time at work. All of this was great, and I really enjoyed the skills days. I felt they took me out of my comfort zone. I did mine in centre which meant I worked in different teams and mixed with people who I may not have spoken to in the usual classroom environment. It was great to meet other people from the same industry and in the same position as me. I really enjoyed my apprenticeship and have to say there weren’t really any parts I didn’t like. Similarly, I also enjoyed logging my ‘off the job’ hours as it was great to see that I was progressing and then reflect on what I’d learned.
I built a network of people that I still keep in touch with and it’s nice that everyone is local. You also get to meet lots of different people and your paths cross at various times during your journey.
What would you say are the main benefits of an apprenticeship for the apprentice?
The main benefit for me was the balance. Having the support from your employer and college feels like a joint effort. Your company wants you to succeed and is willing to sacrifice time for you to gain your qualification. A win for me was a win for them and they wanted to help me on my journey. To know that they had invested time in me felt great. They also allowed me time to learn a wider part of the business as part of the ‘off the job’ training. The mix of theory and practical learning personally was also a huge benefit. My job helped my studies, and my studies helped my job.
What support did you get from FI Chelmsford and how did you find studying with us?
I thought it was really good. I don’t think I ever had an unanswered email or one that took too long to get a response. The tutors were great at communicating. Even if you didn’t need help, there were no doubts that it was there if you needed it. How it was set up worked perfectly for me. In particular, the structure of the work and when it was needed was great. The feedback on my work and the mocks from the tutors was invaluable to me. I believe this is the only reason I did so well. The amount of support when working through questions was so helpful. You couldn’t do this on your own, you wouldn’t do so well.
I spent a lot of my time studying in centre but the last 18 months, I was at home because of the pandemic. I honestly thought my studies would suffer as it’s so easy at home to get distracted. Ian’s online lessons really spring to mind. He was so engaging, and I give him a lot of credit for getting me through some of those papers. He encouraged you to interact without putting you under pressure. Without tutors like Ian, it would’ve been so easy to switch off when studying at home and online. This was a time when everything we did was at home, work, study, revise and even sit exams. It was a difficult time to study but I’m pleased that because of the tutors this didn’t show in my results.
To find out more about studying ACCA with us click here.
For further information about the ACCA qualification, please visit their website.