Posted: 10 Feb. 2021 5 min. read

Ask an apprentice - Career conversations

We asked some of our apprentices – past and present – on the advice they would give to people considering their career options, especially if they’re perhaps considering an apprenticeship as an alternative to university. Here’s what they had to say.


There are many options out there that you can consider as an alternative to university. What you’ll often now find are apprenticeships that’ll take you from A-levels to a degree-level equivalent qualification, and give you solid work experience and no uni debt at the end! There’s no doubt university can be a great experience and so is an apprenticeship, in many of the same ways, but also extremely different to what uni could offer you in others.

When you first start, an apprenticeship can be very different to what you’re used to initially, especially if you join straight from school. But there are people around to support you. I’ve always felt that I have someone to reach out to should I need to.


I would say if you aren’t 100% sure about which subject to study at uni, or feel you would enjoy a work environment more, then there are many different apprenticeship schemes out there, not only at Deloitte but other employers across lots of different industries. In many cases, these can be just as helpful of a route to achieving your career goals as a degree.


My key piece of advice would be to explore any opportunity that you consider interesting and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


My advice would be to seriously consider an apprenticeship. Whatever you might want to pursue as  your career, there’s likely to be an apprenticeship to help you get there and it’s such a brilliant way to integrate into a business. Whilst university is a great route for a lot of people, it might not be for everyone and you shouldn’t feel as though you have to take the traditional route. That’s how I felt. 

I joined Deloitte’s BrightStart apprenticeship programme and now I couldn’t think of doing anything else. I feel I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without this programme and it’s undoubtedly brought many new opportunities and experiences to my life.


You have to be honest with yourself. It was a hard decision for me not to take the traditional university route and it did raise a few eyebrows from my peers. But it was right for me. If you choose an apprenticeship like I did, at the end of three or four years you’ll have a professional qualification with just as many years of on the job experience, whereas people leaving university and entering the same career as me will still have that mountain to climb. 

I think the job market for graduates is so competitive nowadays too. Starting your chosen career early on through an apprenticeship can give you a huge advantage, but be mindful that it means to juggling learning and work.


I would absolutely suggest you do your own research before getting tied up with applying for university which, in my view, can be heavily encouraged by a lot of schools and colleges. There are definitely other options out there.  University may not be the best path for you, so remember to keep your options open.

If you are looking at apprenticeships, then an important point is to start your research and applications early. The interview processes can take quite a while so factor this in when applying – the earlier the better!

Some people view the interview processes as really nerve-wracking, but I always used to ask myself: What have I got to lose? It’s a short period of your life which pays off enormously in the long-run.

I would also say that applying to a large global firm like Deloitte may seem daunting at age 17 or 18, but in my experience, everyone in the business is so keen for you to learn and develop. So they will support you and help out with virtually anything!


Definitely consider Deloitte’s BrightStart scheme and other higher apprenticeship schemes as alternatives to university. University may not always be the best fit for you or the career you want.


My advice would be to consider all options, including an apprenticeship! Do your research, reach out and talk to someone about their experience.

There are many different types of apprenticeships and some employers like Deloitte offer different schemes and they really are a great way to build a secure career pathway.

An apprenticeship can sometimes be a great way to get a foot in the door and trial something new and could end up being the best decision of your life – I know it was mine. I was 17 when I started Deloitte’s business administration apprenticeship in Cardiff that’s delivered in partnership with Cardiff & Vale College.

I finished my apprenticeship over three years ago now and since then I’ve seen people of different ages do the same apprenticeship as me., which proves it’s never too late to do one either. I don’t think you’d meet a single person who’s had a negative experience.

Some people bat away the learning side of an apprenticeship and just see it as something you have to do – they are generally more interested in the job itself. For me, the learning side of the apprenticeship led to a great qualification which is recognisable everywhere, and I learnt things I’d otherwise never have known. I could also apply what I’d learnt in college to my job and vice versa.  I’ve been progressing and building my career since day one whereas some of my friends are only just now beginning their careers. I never thought that, at the age of 21, I would be where I am today, and the happiest I’ve been.

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

#WPCYMRU #AWWALES #AskAnApprentice

Deloitte is a supporter of Apprentice 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.

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