JC Futures: from school to the professional world of accountancy


Calum Finlayson

Calum Finlayson


Calum Finlayson joined Johnston Carmichael as a JC Futures student fresh from school four and a half years ago. He has now completed the majority of his exams and at the young age of 22 is on track to become a fully qualified CA within the next six months! Below, Calum tells us his story and his experience of the JC Futures programme first hand.

How did you come across the JC Futures programme and had you already considered the university route?

I had never considered not going to university as I thought this was the only route to becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA). I had already accepted my offer to go to Glasgow University to study Accounts & Economics when I found out about the JC Futures programme. When I heard about the programme I thought it would be worthwhile to put a CV together and hear more about it, however at this stage I was still set on university.

After doing some research and following my initial interview I realised that this alternative route to becoming a CA could really work for me. The opportunity to qualify in a shorter time-frame along with the additional work experience gained along the way was a very attractive benefit – the chance to earn was nice too! ​ 

Now, it feels great being 6 months away from becoming a fully qualified CA at the age of 22, as opposed to just starting a training contract at this age had I went to University.

Would you recommend JC Futures to other school leavers? 

Absolutely. It has been a great experience for me. Some of the key highlights for me have been:

  • The opportunity to be further ahead with your career and establish yourself within the firm at an early age
  • Qualifying in less time than if you went down the university route is an obvious benefit.
  • Financially the chance to ‘earn while you learn’ straight from school is a nice advantage rather than potentially accumulating debt at uni!
  • The level of support you receive on the job is excellent so don’t be daunted about going straight into a full-time work environment directly from school
  • The additional practical experience gained is of huge benefit when it comes to sitting exams as you are able to apply more real-life examples to answers.

Now you are almost through the JC Futures scheme – do you have any top tips for school leavers looking to start the journey?

For those who may find the thought of coming into a full-time working environment while studying for a qualification a bit overwhelming at a young age – the positive experience outweighs any challenges you may encounter in terms of managing your workload while studying. You do need to be prepared to work hard, but the support is there for you to thrive both in the workplace and with studies while maintain a good work-life balance. It’s important not to get too bogged down with studies come exam time, make sure you take time out to relax and have fun too!

How has the JC Futures scheme helped you develop personally, e.g. soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving?

The relationships you develop with colleagues and clients on both a personal and professional level is great, and personally I feel I’ve come a long way since starting out straight from school. Working in a client-facing role from a relatively early age has allowed me to develop my communication skills and more importantly taught me how to tailor my approach on a client by client basis. Working as part of a team initially as an assistant before moving into a senior role over the last two years has helped by teamwork skills considerably.

 Interested in our JC Futures scheme, or know someone who might be? Our vacancies are live until 14 February and we have opportunities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Elgin and Forfar. Visit our dedicated student recruitment page to find out more and to apply.