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Keaton Hamilton - Apprenticeships

News and Features
Coming straight out of school after A-Levels and into university is the route many of us are expected to take, not me. I decided to take the apprentice route at Belfast Met and work for Allen & Overy.

I had offers from three universities however decided that an apprenticeship was the best course of action for me. Why? Well in a rapidly changing working world, I believe employers are beginning to value experience a lot more. This was the main reason behind my decision as the work experience and the mixture of qualifications, in my opinion makes me a lot more valuable to employers.

This path better suits my individual learning style and me as a person. I can take a lot more information on board and learn new things relatively quickly through trial and error. What better way to do this than to be thrown into the working world and getting hands on experience?

I am currently part of a sub-department in finance called Accounts payable (AP). Each day I face the challenge of processing many different types of invoices and expenses from the firm's clients and partners. I will be moving onto a different sub-department until I have had a taste of each sub-department within the Finance department. Exposure to these real life scenarios enables me to increase my overall understanding of the financial industry.

Each day in the office is a training day for me as there has not been a day where I have not developed myself. I have completed many different forms of training, most recent being the Delivering Excellent Customer Service (DECS). This has developed my skills in dealing with clients and I now feel more aware of the client needs and what I can do to help meet them.

The highlight of this experience has been realising the importance of what I am capable of doing in Allen & Overy and having the ability to keep on top of tasks, which is important to maintain the firm’s fantastic reputation.

Over the Christmas period was definitely the busiest it has been. I felt supported by every employee in the office, which enabled me to continue to perform and sustain my work. It is this sense of belonging and support that has given me the confidence for future growth and success.

I admit that I am still uncertain of what direction I wish to pursue upon completion of my apprenticeship course. I have learnt from my experience here that this is normal and at my age, some decisions can be daunting. However, the fact that I will have different career options open to me within Allen & Overy makes me feel at ease and takes a lot of pressure off me. Ideally I would love to progress to a higher-level apprenticeship in accountancy with Allen & Overy and Belfast Met.

Would I advise others to do an apprenticeship with Allen and Overy and Belfast Met? Absolutely! Why? In today's world employers are looking for valuable employees and with the right experience, you will be just that: valuable. Just because you are not in a classroom full time does not mean you do not learn and at the end of your apprenticeship, you will still gain a qualification. Lastly, you will be part of a team and you are paid to learn. Who wants to have huge debt coming out of university with one degree and zero experience? Not me! I chose the apprenticeship route and I am yet to look back.

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