Case study

Hafsah — Audit apprentice


After completing her A-levels, Hafsah managed to secure a place on KPMG’s Audit Apprenticeship Programme, which has enabled her to learn through the job

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship allows me to gain on-the-job work experience to a level unparalleled in any other career route. I save on university fees and instead complete multiple well-recognised qualifications fully funded by KPMG, while also earning a salary. I enjoy learning using a hands-on approach as opposed to sitting through lectures, so it was a no-brainer.

What drew you to KPMG as an employer?

Being one of the ‘Big four’ accounting firms, KPMG allowed me to have exposure to the huge organisations we work with at an incredibly early stage of my career. It’s a friendly, welcoming and diverse company and I work alongside some extremely talented people.

What did the apprenticeship application process involve?

It is a fairly simple process consisting of multiple stages. First, I completed the online form, providing information about my education and grades. Then, I was sent questions on various topics and asked to submit a digital recording answering them. Once I passed this stage, I completed an online logical reasoning test, and was then invited to the assessment centre. At the moment, this stage is being held virtually, where you’ll learn more about the firm, meet people from KPMG and take part in virtual assessment activities including written exercises and interviews.

What’s a typical day like as a KPMG apprentice?

In audit, we will be assigned to an engagement for any amount of time from just a few days to months. After joining the audit team, you’ll be based either at the office, the engagement site or working virtually – and spend the workday completing sections of the file. The purpose of an audit is to verify the numbers in the organisation’s financial statements, so we perform testing and sampling to agree the figures back to documentation. We often spend time meeting with them too, to gather evidence for our workpapers.

Describe your apprenticeship in five words.

Enjoyable, hands-on, educational, rewarding, interesting.

What part do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy how I regularly move between different engagement projects and teams. This means I’m always working with and meeting new people. I also love how, straight after joining, I was made to feel like part of the team and was given the same tasks and responsibilities as the graduate joiners.

What are the challenges?

One of them was getting used to a full-time job coming straight from A-levels. However, the change really helped me develop my confidence, time management and organisation skills. I was eased into the work by my team – we weren’t expected to have any prior knowledge and were given all the necessary training.

How do you balance working and studying?

Our exam schedule is structured in a way that makes it manageable. We are booked into tuition for one exam, then sit it a few weeks later, with study leave the day before to give us extra time to revise. The apprenticeship team are always there to support us if we need it, and they also try to schedule exams around busy season, so we aren’t working late while balancing revision. The community of other apprentices is also helpful to turn to for support during exam times.

On completion of your apprenticeship what opportunities are available at KPMG?

There really is no limit as to how far we can go in our careers. Once we’re qualified, we will become an assistant manager and can then gradually rise through the grades with the potential to make it all the way up to partner. There are also opportunities for secondment, whether that be to an office in a different country or just to another department to try something new.

What are your career ambitions?

I am hoping to stay on to complete the full apprenticeship at KPMG and qualify with the ACA. I would love to become an assistant manager and take on more responsibilities.

What advice can you give to others considering a KPMG apprenticeship?

  • Just go for it and apply – either way, it will be a great learning experience.
  • Always ask questions if you’re unsure of anything – managers would much rather you ask them for further explanations than for you to be working without understanding what you’re doing.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to people – whether it’s just to build your network or because you need support with exams. There will always be someone willing to help.