A word of advice – top tips for accounting apprenticeships

Murray Scott

Murray Scott

Trainee Restructuring Administrator

21 February 2024

Diving into the world of work directly from school can seem daunting – but it’s also a brilliant opportunity to gain real-life experience whilst you work towards your professional qualifications, and earn while you learn!

Murray Scott, a Trainee Case Administrator our Restructuring team, joined Johnston Carmichael straight from school on our JC Futures accounting apprenticeship in August 2023. Here, he shares his top tips for apprenticeship applications and how to make the most of the experience.

My top tips for:

Standing out with your online application

Put as much time and effort possible into your application and ensure you do not rush things. I found it helpful for someone else to read over my CV – this allows a third party to feedback on the initial impression you’re giving, and they are also more likely to see errors which you might not necessarily have spotted (grammar issues etc). They can also give you potential pointers into improving your CV, such as areas which you may have missed about yourself.

Ensure you include all experience from school and different societies. For example, I went to North East Scotland College during my fifth year at school to complete a foundation apprenticeship in accountancy. The foundation apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to gain two Level 6 SQA qualifications in Accountancy, gain an award from AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), which is a recognised qualification, and also get some hands-on experience working in situations with real accountancy firms such as Johnston Carmichael - all within a single school year.

Making a good impression virtually, in video screenings or digital interviews

Dress appropriately (for example a smart top, shirt or polo shirt) and ensure you use positive body language by sitting up straight and looking excited and interested. Speak clearly and ensure you are in quiet and comfortable environment that won’t provide any distractions.

Making the most of the assessment centre

Introduce yourself to not only the interviewers but also the other applicants. These are the people who you may be working alongside, making it very important to build a relationship with them as soon as possible. Listen carefully to all the information given and don’t be afraid to ask questions on anything you are not sure on, or you may be curious to know about (no such thing as a silly question).  

Prepping for your first day

Make sure you read all of the emails beforehand which instruct you on things you may need for your first day or any tasks which may need be completed prior to your first day.

Enjoying your first day

Be well rested and make sure you have eaten beforehand. I found myself being very excited on the morning I woke up as it had been a very long time waiting until the start date and I was eager to start my career at JC!

My first day was spent socialising a lot with the team and getting to know those who I was going to be working with. I also had the opportunity to chat to people who were walking by my desk from different departments and was given a very warm welcome from everyone at JC as a whole. I embraced the conversation as much as I could which has led me to being friendly and comfortable with others I work with in JC and really helped me settle in quickly.

A successful first week and month

Come into work with a positive attitude and take in all the information which is provided to you. From my experience, I have had very strong support from my buddy, line manager and the rest of the team since I started which I continue to get. I have found work to be a lot more fun when you have good relationships with those who are working around you and being comfortable enough with them to ask for support and help when needed.

Balancing work alongside study

I feel as if I have a perfect example of a good work/life balance as outside of work I DJ every Friday and Saturday in different clubs and bars in Aberdeen; I go to the gym regularly 3-5 times a week; see my friends on a regular basis; and also spend time in Glasgow with my extended family typically every 2-3 weekends. I can achieve this by using my time wisely and putting the correct amount of time aside for the different things. For example, during study periods on the lead up to an exam, once I finish work at 5pm I stay and revise for 1-3 hours every night Monday-to-Thursday. This allows me to get valuable revision time in but also still have time to go to the gym/see friends after I have finished work. This then gives me time at the weekend to have some rest/free time and have time to DJ. It is important to be able to turn off from work and be able to do other things which you want to do and having a rough schedule planned out has made things a lot easier for me.

Find out more

If an accounting apprenticeship sounds like the right route for you, our JC Futures programme is waiting for your application! Find out more and apply on our Careers pages here.

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