After hearing about apprenticeships from a friend, Mark Kakembo changed his mind from pursuing a degree path to joining professional services firm KPMG’s apprenticeship scheme.
Did you always have a career plan in mind?
I’ve always been interested in the finance sector and was originally dead set on a traditional degree route after sixth form. There was nowhere near as much exposure to apprenticeships compared with the focus placed on the university route at my school.
How did you hear about apprenticeships as a route?
I was lucky enough to hear about apprenticeships through a friend, so started looking at opportunities in finance.
I made two applications to the big four plus one banking apprenticeship – demand for all was incredibly high. At A level, BCC (or equivalent) is the requirement alongside a minimum of 5 A*-C at GCSE. I achieved ABC in English, psychology and geography A levels respectively; making it onto KPMG’s scheme as a result.
Tell us about the KPMG apprenticeship programme
The 360 programme is a three-year course designed for someone looking to broaden their outlook on the wider professional services environment.
Being an apprentice has given me more opportunities to learn as our scheme allows us to rotate into numerous areas of the business. Building on this, you can then make a calculated career decision based on real-life experiences.
We’ve developed soft skills too – public speaking, physical communication and networking”
I’ve personally been able to find my ‘home’ department in audit quite early in the scheme. However, many of my peers have been able to rotate into sectors not initially available on the programme by having discussions with management who make every effort to open the door.
In my final year (2019) I will make my formal choice of the department I’d like to specialise in. Having chosen audit, I will then continue towards completing my ACA qualification over the following three years.
What skills has the apprenticeship helped you to learn?
Away from the formal working environment, the 360 apprenticeship team has made a very conscious effort to focus on developing our soft skills during our quarterly forums run from the start of the scheme. We’ve tackled public speaking, physical communication (eye contact) and networking.
Are you pleased you decided to do an apprenticeship?
I have no regrets about choosing this path as I am free of debt and earning while I learn. Another key benefit is the head start it affords you to get into your respective profession, straight from school.
Perceptions of apprenticeships are changing for the better”
How do you think apprenticeships are viewed by others?
Perceptions of apprenticeships are changing for the better. I don’t believe that there is a ‘second rate’ status associated with them today, as they have received backing from the government on such a large scale.
What would you advise others who were thinking about an apprenticeship?
I’d categorically recommend an apprenticeship to anybody interested in pursuing a career in professional services or finance. These programmes make you incredibly well-rounded by giving you the opportunity to earn the relevant qualifications you need, alongside gaining important on-the-job experience.