Posted: 08 Feb. 2021 5 min. read

Apprenticeships – Paving the way to a great career

To mark Apprenticeship Week Wales, Jess Popkin, a senior associate in Deloitte’s South West & Wales private audit practice, reflects on why she chose an apprenticeship to start her career in accountancy.

I’d always thought I would go to university to study maths or accountancy and I was very set on this path and was looking forward to it all throughout school! When I got to sixth form college, my opinion completely changed and I knew university wasn’t for me.

After a year of college, I realised I wanted to focus solely on accountancy, and I thought an apprenticeship would be the best way for me to start my career in professional services straightaway.

I learned which local employers offered apprenticeships and this sounded like something I wanted to explore. I knew I wanted to work for one of the Big 4 firms if I could, so I started researching all four to see if they had anything similar and also to see which one would be the best fit for me.

I first found out about both of Deloitte’s apprenticeship programmes – entry level and higher level - through my college accountancy tutor. He was invested in my future and I’m very glad I had his guidance. I knew Deloitte was one of the Big 4, had lots of different business areas and a presence in most countries – this enticed me as I thought it could lead to lots of different career paths.

After looking into Deloitte and other firms in comparison, it seemed to me as though Deloitte had the most exciting future opportunities as well as multiple apprenticeships to choose from.  There was also an array of communities to get involved with outside of my day-to-day role and, later on in my career, there could be opportunities to go on secondments across the business.

Deloitte’s BrightStart higher apprenticeship programme caught my eye because there was lots of information available and I was able to read stories about existing BrightStart apprentices which I found really helpful. The programme is considered an alternative to university and, if all goes well, means, qualifying three years earlier than if you’d got a degree and then joined the firm to start studying and training for your ACA qualifications. To me that was a massive difference.

I didn’t have A-levels, though, which could have been a stumbling block, but then I found out more about Deloitte’s entry level apprenticeship in business administration that the firm offers in Cardiff.

This programme was one of the main reasons why I wanted to join Deloitte as it made me feel as though a career at the firm was accessible to me, whereas some other firms I explored didn’t offer an option like this. If I completed Deloitte’s entry level apprenticeship first, I could go on to the firm’s BrightStart higher apprenticeship programme, both stepping stones that would pave my way towards the career I wanted.

I knew it was a fantastic opportunity that I had to take.  So much so, I was willing to relocate from Surrey to Wales, leaving my childhood home.  I was 17 years old, but I couldn’t miss such an amazing opportunity.

Without the entry level apprenticeship, I don’t think I would have got the chance to achieve my dream of working in audit. I’m pleased to say I’m now a Senior Associate in audit and currently in my third year of a four-year BrightStart higher apprenticeship. At the end, I will be ACA qualified with a level 8 apprenticeship qualification. 

Apprenticeship Week Wales celebrates apprenticeships and the value they bring to employers and learners across Wales.


Deloitte is a supporter of Apprenticeship Week Wales and, by sharing our stories, we would like to encourage everyone to consider how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career. We’re one of a number of employers celebrating the apprenticeship community, highlighting the opportunities to earn a wage and gain new skills and qualifications, and showcasing the resilience of apprentices and their employers during the pandemic.

Explore Deloitte’s virtual Spring careers festival, a programme of virtual events that potential applicants can join, as well as parents, teachers and careers advisors.  These range from discovery sessions, where people can chat online with our student recruitment team or current apprentices, skills workshops as well as ‘Meet Deloitte’ sessions.

Key Contacts

 Jess Popkin

Jess Popkin

Assistant Manager

Jess is a Assistant Manager in the South West & Wales Private Audit team based in Cardiff. Her role involves testing and auditing account balances for clients in the private sector. She is one of Deloitte's BrightStart apprentices and is working towards the ACA qualification.