Education is a very important part of today’s society. There doesn’t seem to be a job vacancy out there that doesn’t require some form of qualification and or experience. With GCSE and A-level students throughout the UK collecting their exam results last week we felt it necessary to point out that there are a lot of professions where exam results aren’t everything… accountancy being one of them!
Experience Outweighs Exam Results
Over my career I have come to realise that professional experience in accountancy means a lot more than academic grades when it comes to employability. Gaining that all important life and work experience will help you understand how modern day business works, and how to account for it. This in turn will make you seem much more attractive to a potential employer than the fact you got an A in your A-level maths exam.
University : Is It Worth It?
There are certain professions out there where academic achievements are essential to starting out on the career ladder, and university is a must (for example, a surgeon or a doctor). I am here to tell you that accountancy is not one of them. There are many accounting and business courses available at some very well respected universities; however a university degree is not essential to having a successful career in the accountancy world.
Like myself, there are a many people out there whose academic credentials don’t shine as brightly as they would like, but who are very logical and “hands on.” Apprenticeships give these people the opportunity to shine. You can gain work experience at the same time as being academically educated in the field you have chosen. Accountancy is just one of the many areas where apprenticeships are a standard way of business. So if accountancy is a career you are considering, an apprenticeship may be the best route for you.
In order to fully illustrate my point here I would like to share with you my own personal career story.
After obtaining relatively good GCSE results I continued my education by staying on at sixth form and completing 3 A-levels. My A-level results were far from what I expected (a D grade in mathematics being one of them!), but I didn’t let those letters hold me back. I may not have known how to solve simultaneous equations, but I was pretty sure that I knew how to account for money in a business.
Going through another 4 years of education at university didn’t really appeal to me, so I wrote a CV (which at the time was quite limited since I had only held a couple of jobs in retail), along with a cover letter detailing my want to be an accountant. I then sent these out to over 40 local accountancy firms. After a lot of rejection letters I was finally offered an interview, and later a job with training….I was on the path to becoming an accountant!
My apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to gain valuable life and work experience in the office environment, whilst taking time out to go to college and learn the technical side of what it means to be an accountant. I worked through my courses, took my exams, wrote my training records, and finally became an ACCA qualified accountant at the age of 22 (just 4 years after leaving school).
The Future Is What You Make It
I am sitting here now writing this blog as a 29 year old director of my own accounting firm. I have no student debt and I am my own boss. Essentially what I hope you take away from this article is that life is what you make it. Please don’t let the letters on that piece of paper define who you are, because that is for you to decide, not an exam board.