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Interviews

School Leaver Programme Experience: Mazars Interviews

 School Leaver Programme Experience: Mazars

Tom Johnson left school after finishing his A-levels and headed straight into the working world with a school leaver programme with Mazars. He’s now on the way to qualification as a qualified accountant, with a multitude of different experiences at the top multinational professional services firm to boot! He gave us an insight into life on the school leaver programme...


Why did you choose to follow the school leaver programme route when you finished at school?

The school leaver programme option seemed to make far more sense to me than university.  I have always had a good work ethic so when I saw the opportunity to earn while I learn I grasped it with both hands.

Was accountancy always a career you had an interest in?

From a very young age I developed a love for business.  The finance team of any business is arguably the most important part of the team.  Therefore  learning about how the finance team of different companies operate gives you a wide understanding of how the business industry works. My cousin took the same route when he was my age, I saw how well he was doing for himself and it became a natural path for me to follow.

Could you take us through what you did when you left school (in terms of applications, things that helped you decide which route to take etc.)?

On a frequent basis my school held careers days.  During one of these days we had a session where we were encouraged to apply for apprenticeships online.  I won a Kaplan Financial Scholarship which means that all of my expenses for becoming a chartered accountant have been paid for by Kaplan.

I was chosen from a field of 150 applicants as the Scholar for London and the South East for 2012. This was just the beginning of my journey to Mazars.

After winning my scholarship I was put in touch with many accountancy firms, but Mazars was the most appealing to me. I felt it offered the greatest opportunities for me to progress as an accountant. The recruitment process consisted of an online application, online numerical and literacy tests, a preliminary interview with a HR representative and an assessment day. The assessment day involved a presentation (on a topic of my choice), an in tray test, a team activity, a partner interview and a tour of the office.

I was fortunate enough to be offered the job – but this did not come from sitting back and hoping for the best!  Days of revision went into the two online tests and weeks of preparation went into the interviews and assessment day as a whole. My philosophy is ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’.

What stood out to you about the Mazars school leaver programme?

Mazars are such a well recognised firm around the world with fantastic opportunities to progress internally. As Mazars is such a large company it means that they can attract some of the biggest firms in the industry, so I have been fortunate enough to work on clients such as AXA since joining them.

One thing that really attracted me to Mazars was the fact that they treat each year’s intake equally, no matter what programme you’re on, so as a school leaver I am taking a very similar route to graduates and progressing at the same rate.  You are also not limited to one sector of accountancy. I am in the Insurance Audit team yet I have also carried out work for Corporate Finance and Financial Planning. This has  given me an insight into other areas of business I may want to join once qualified.

Could you tell us about the Mazars school leaver programme?

The Mazars school leaver scheme provides the opportunity to study for the AAT qualification whilst you earn and gain valuable work experience in the Mazars offices. The AAT qualification last for two to four years depending on what level you join at and how you are being funded; whether that be by the government scheme or by the firm that employees you.

The programme gives you a very good knowledge of accounting and how a business operates on a day-to-day basis. Some of the topics I have studied already involve double entry bookkeeping, budgeting and costing, which have all aided me in my development at Mazars. 

Once I have completed the AAT I will be a qualified accountant and also have the opportunity to complete the ACA (lasting two years), which will mean I will be a fully qualified Chartered Accountant.

How do you find the London office?

The London office is, in one word, brilliant! We are located in the heart of the city which gives us excellent links to many of our top clients and a buzzing atmosphere.  Being the largest office in the UK means we are able to take in the largest amount of graduates/school leavers each year.  This was very nice for me as it meant that I joined as part of a year group, so I made plenty of friends instantly.

The employees here in London really make the company an enjoyable place to work. The managers and partners are a pleasure to work for and are more than willing to help with any queries or questions, no matter how silly they may be!

Why is it important to earn the AAT qualification?

The AAT is equivalent to a degree in accountancy and provides you with a solid foundation knowledge of accounting. Doing this qualification as part of a school leaver programme means that not only do you gain tuition in accountancy, you also get valuable work experience within an accountancy firm which will be vital later on in your career.

What you also have to remember is that with the AAT you are not just limited to accountancy. It is such a well recognised qualification that it opens doors to all sorts of financial services sectors  such as banking, insurance and investments.

How does a typical day (or week if you have different places to be on different days) look for you on the programme?

No day or week is the same.  During busy season (January-March) I am booked on a variety of insurance clients completing year-end audits. However, when I am in the office I get a wide range of different pieces of work from the various departments within Mazars.  AAT days vary depending on the college but each module ranges from two to six days at college and these tend to be once a week. 

Is it difficult to work and study simultaneously? What kind of support do you get at Mazars?

To be honest it is not as bad as people may think, however you must not take it for granted as you still need to put the effort in to get the most out of it. During your time when you’re not at college you can do whatever you please, but it is important to get your head down and work hard when you are at college.

Mazars really are fantastic with the support they give me.  Both my line manager and appraisal manager always encourage me when necessary and praise me when I have passed certain exams. If I ever have any accounting questions I feel comfortable to ask anyone for help as they are more than willing to advise.

Will there be more opportunities with Mazars once you’ve finished the programme?

When I qualify at Mazars the world literally is my oyster.  I have the option to stay on in the audit section and progress through the ranks.  I can diversify into a different service that Mazars provide, potentially financial planning or corporate finance. There is also the opportunity to do a secondment to one of our international offices. Bermuda and Singapore are two that look very appealing at the moment!

Keen to get stuck straight into an accountancy career like Tom? You can check out the school leaver opportunities at Mazars here.

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Devan Nathwani, Actuarial Intern and Graduate at Aon

Devan Nathwani, Actuarial Intern and Graduate at Aon

Devan was curious about what an actuarial career may hold as a mathematics student, but wasn’t 100% sure what the industry actually entailed. A couple of years later, he has completed a summer internship in actuarial consulting within pensions with top actuarial firm Aon, and has now moved into their graduate scheme. So what did he gain from his summer internship?

Interviews

Deutsche Bank Experiences: Private & Business Clients

Deutsche Bank Experiences: Private & Business Clients

Private and business clients is a highly desired career path focus in the banking and finance world. Roya is gaining experience in this area with Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany – one of the world’s biggest financial hubs. She told us about the opportunities this is opening up.

Interviews

Deutsche Bank Experiences: Graduate Global Technology Strategy Analyst

Deutsche Bank Experiences: Graduate Global Technology Strategy Analyst

Leo is a Global Technology Strategy Analyst in Group Technology & Operations in London. His team pioneers technologies and re-engineers business processes to deliver innovation and world-class client service. From moving trillions of Euros through a business every day to integrating two organizations after a major acquisition, they face the technological challenges caused by growth, market change and constant competition…

Interviews

Dave Benson Phillips, Children’s Television Presenter

Dave Benson Phillips, Children’s Television Presenter

If you watched children’s television in the 90s, you will probably recognise the trademark smile of Dave Benson Phillips. Yep, that’s right! He’s the charming chap who presented Playdays, Get Your Own Back and Wake Up in the Wild Room. We caught up with Dave to chat about his life as a children’s television presenter, the 'World’s Largest Gunge Fight', and the internet death hoax that threatened to ruin his career…

Interviews

Confessions of a Recruitment Consultant

Confessions of a Recruitment Consultant

Prepare to be shocked, appalled and amused! We interviewed a graduate recruitment consultant to find out what really happens to your CV when you apply for a job through a recruitment agency. If you want an honest insight into the recruitment process, you’re in the right place. The person we interviewed has asked to remain anonymous. Get ready to find out why!

Interviews

Chibundu Onuzo, Student Novelist

Chibundu Onuzo, Student Novelist

Chibundu Onuzo started writing her debut novel when she was just 17 years old. Having secured a two-book deal with Faber at the age of 20, whilst studying history at King’s College London, she went on to receive widespread critical acclaim for The Spider King’s Daughter, which was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Dylan Thomas Prize. We chatted to Chibundu about tackling the writing process, getting published, and balancing academic work with a literary career…

Interviews

Catching Up with Browne Jacobson’s New Training Principal

Catching Up with Browne Jacobson’s New Training Principal

Mark Hughes has recently been appointed training principal at Browne Jacobson. Mark, a partner in Browne Jacobson’s corporate team specialises in all aspects of corporate advice, including acquisitions and disposals and has been with the firm since 1999. AllAboutCareers.com caught up with Mark, finding out about changes to Browne Jacobson’s trainee recruitment programme…

Interviews

Building a Brand: The World’s Best Tasting Popcorn

Building a Brand: The World’s Best Tasting Popcorn

Fresh from his recent appearance on Dragons’ Den, Martin McLaughlin (a.k.a. Ben ‘Jamaican Me Crazy’ McLaughlin) chatted to us about starting his own popcorn company, Love Da Popcorn, with two close friends. With a background in advertising and a tidy little bit of investment from Peter Jones, Love Da Popcorn’s products are likely to be making your tonsils tingle with happiness very, very soon…

Interviews

Are apprenticeships the best route into the accounting industry?

Are apprenticeships the best route into the accounting industry?

Mike Day is the Head of the Accounting Academy Partnership, an apprenticeship scheme which helps young people to become qualified accounting technicians in just 14 months. We chatted to Mike about the increasing importance of apprenticeships in the accounting industry, especially now the government has announced its scheme to create 360,000 apprenticeships in the UK this financial year…

Interviews

An Interview with the Attorney General

An Interview with the Attorney General

Appointed as the Attorney General by Prime Minister David Cameron in May, 2010, Dominic Grieve QC MP is the Chief Legal Adviser to the Crown. A champion of student pro bono projects, he also chairs the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Committee. We were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to the Attorney General about the importance of student pro bono projects, his own personal experiences of pro bono work, and the possible impact that the proposed legal aid cuts will have on pro bono initiatives in the UK…

Interviews

An Interview with an Ambassador

An Interview with an Ambassador

His Excellency Ric Todd has recently been appointed Her Majesty’s Governor to Turks and Caicos Islands. Previously he was the 56th British Ambassador to Poland. We were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to Ric about his career so far, his advice for people considering a career as a British Ambassador, the challenge of learning new languages and meeting Pope John Paul II...

Interviews

An Employer’s Perspective on Modern Apprenticeships

An Employer’s Perspective on Modern Apprenticeships

Employers Jessica Addis and James Vaughan-Smith needed to hire additional staff recently and took a chance on apprentice Chloe Hutchinson-Brown. Having had a positive experience of utilising an apprenticeship scheme, Jessica and James spoke to AllAboutCareers.com about how hiring an apprentice worked for their company and should be a serious consideration for all school leavers.

Interviews

Alice Coates, Teach First Maths Ambassador

Alice Coates, Teach First Maths Ambassador

Alice Coates gained a multitude of different experiences working with young people through her studies before she took on the challenge of the Teach First Leadership Development Programme as a maths teacher in the Yorkshire and The Humber area. A couple of years later, she’s now a Lower School Assistant Head in Sheffield! She chatted to us about her experiences on the programme and what teaching means to her…

Interviews

Adam Gamsa, Trainee Solicitor @ Field Fisher Waterhouse

Adam Gamsa, Trainee Solicitor @ Field Fisher Waterhouse

Having completed a DPhil in Physics at the University of Oxford, Adam Gamsa decided to move away from academia and join Field Fisher Waterhouse as a trainee solicitor. We caught up with Adam to chat about his first nine months as a trainee, his vacation scheme and his enthusiasm for intellectual property law…

Interviews

A Life in Social Care

A Life in Social Care

Many of the people who pursue a career in social care are initially drawn by the simple motivation of ‘helping people’ or ‘giving something back’. Behind such simplicity is a complicated range of values. For example, a recognition of the inherent value of every person and their right to be considered equal with every other citizen.

Interviews

A Different Kind of Accountant

A Different Kind of Accountant

When you hear the word Mazuma, you might think of those irritating adverts which invite you to exchange your mobile phone for cash. But wait! There is another company with the same name. Started by two friends, Mazuma provides expert accountancy services to small businesses and independent contractors. We had a chat with Sophie Hughes about starting up her own business and what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry…

Interviews

A Day in the Life of a Trainee Actuarial Consultant

A Day in the Life of a Trainee Actuarial Consultant

After graduating from the University of Warwick with a degree in Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics (MORSE), Tom Williams joined Aon as a trainee actuarial consultant. We caught up with him to find out more about the professional life of an actuary… 

Interviews

Why I Chose My Sponsored Degree in Engineering

Why I Chose My Sponsored Degree in Engineering

Sponsored Degree Programmes can be ideal for those looking for a career change too. Lee Dennis was initially an engineer with the Royal Navy, and took his career in a new direction into the power system industry through the National Grid Engineer Training Programme…

Interviews