My apprenticeship journey: my studies and day-to-day were intertwined

by Cody James

03 February 2020

Cody James first joined the HFMA as a AAT Level 2 apprentice in the finance department. She quickly became a vital part of the team and was shortlisted for The Bristol and Bath Apprenticeship Awards. Find out more about why she chose to do an apprenticeship, the support she received and how the apprenticeship changed her career aspirations.

When I left college, like many others, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. I spoke to a careers advisor and decided to see if finance is for me. I liked the idea of doing an apprenticeship as this allowed me to both study and gain qualifications whilst learning on the job and to put my academic learning into practice.

During my apprenticeship, I was working at the HFMA four days a week, going to college one day a week and doing independent study in my spare time. I also attended various in-house training, including Excel training sessions and an NHS Operating Game day.

Working at the HFMA as part of my apprenticeship has been a fantastic experience. I have been able to relate my day-to-day tasks to my studies which has proven to be very useful. For example, during my Level 3 course, I learnt about producing monthly management accounts. Shortly after that I started producing these for HFMA and this allowed me to understand the process better.

My greatest achievement was being given two sets of management accounts to prepare each month on my own. This shows how much progression I have made through both my work experiences and my studies. My other responsibilities include producing monthly management accounts, bank reconciliations, purchase and sales ledgers, VAT reconciliations and returns, checking and posting expenses and producing journals.

Whilst doing my apprenticeship, my apprenticeship company SWAC, nominated the apprentices for apprentice of the month. I won the award for September 2017. I didn’t even know there was an apprentice of the month when I started my apprenticeship, so it made me feel recognised as an apprentice and that others were noticing the hard work I was putting in.

In 2019 I was shortlisted in the finance category of the Bristol and Bath Apprenticeship Awards and attended the awards gala dinner. This was a great experience and really showed the achievement of the apprentices in the region. Mark Knight, CEO of HFMA, and Ian Turner, deputy CEO and director of finance, joined me and my family at the awards ceremony.

In January 2020 I also got shortlisted for the South West Business Awards for apprentice of the year, which again was another great achievement!

I feel I am still learning new skills in my job every day, which means it is exciting and makes me want to learn more. I am really motivated to do well in my exams and to qualify as an accountant in the future. I have had 360-degree support from my line manager. We have monthly catch-ups where we discuss how far I have progressed. They have always had the time to listen to any concerns or problems which has made me feel supported in my working environment. I have also had support from my colleagues, my apprenticeship company and from my tutor at college.

When I first started my apprenticeship, I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go in my studies, or even whether finance was the right choice for me. Now I know I want to continue my studies to complete a AAT Level 4 qualification and then move on to complete an ACCA qualification to become a qualified accountant. It has been the apprenticeship which has helped me make this decision.

Find out more about the HFMA accounting apprenticeship offering.

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