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What do Students Want from Work Experience Placements – Q&A with Abigail Durant

Students want practical skills, industry insight, and networking opportunities from work experience placements. Personal and professional development are key. Guidance on career paths is up there and students are keen for feedback to improve their skills. Students hope for a rewarding experience that prepares them for future employment.

National Apprenticeship Week 2024 has ended, but we’re not done yet! Meet Abigail, a local student from Hertford Regional College, currently undergoing a 35-hour work experience at HB Accountants as part of her college course. We chat with Abigail to learn what students seek from work experience and her insights on on-the-job learning

Q&A with Abigail Durant – Work Experience Placement at HB Accountants

What motivated you to apply for a work experience placement at HB Accountants?

I had heard about HB Accountants from living in Hoddesdon. I got in touch about a work experience placement because I am interested in a career in business administration or accountancy. My goal was to gain accountancy experience before I go into the industry after completing my college course.

What specific skills or knowledge were you hoping to gain from your work experience?

I was hoping to gain a deeper understanding of accountancy and the business administration side of a practice. I wanted to see how each of the role within the practice works and how each role is related to the client.

How has this placement contributed to your understanding of the Accountancy sector?

Before I started my placement, I knew I wanted a career in the accountancy field, I just didn’t know what area I wanted to work in. I now know what each role involves, and what skills I need to work in different sectors of accountancy. My placement has also helped me learn more about what accountants and tax specialists do, the compliance requirements, and how an accountancy practice helps their clients.

Do you feel you have grown or developed professionally during your time at HB Accountants?

Before my placement, I didn’t have a full understanding of how to behave in a workplace, as I had never worked in an office environment previously. On my first day, I was taught to answer customer emails and how to answer client calls. I am now confident to talk to clients professionally whilst remaining friendly. Everything I have absorbed while working at HB Accountants will be helpful when I apply for apprenticeships after completing my business college course.

How would you describe the company culture and working environment at HB Accountants?

It never felt like ‘just a work experience placement’. On my first day, I had a tour around the building and was given an information pack telling me about all the team. I was shown what to do when completing tasks and always felt I could ask questions if I need help.

My work experience placement has been a great experience, right from the start. All of the team were welcoming. I have looked forward coming to work. I have enjoyed learning about all the different roles, I have enjoyed being part of the team and everyone has been so helpful with any questions I’ve had.

Did you feel a sense of inclusion and collaboration within team HB?

100% yes! I was always encouraged to get involved. The team included me in projects they were completing, giving me guidance if I needed it. I was given tasks to work on indepently. I felt a real sense of responsibility, completing tasks for multiple departments. I was even asked to feature in this blog!

has the work experience complemented your academic studies?

While my studies at college provide theoretical knowledge, work experience allows me to apply that knowledge in real-work scenarios. It is great that my foundation diploma in Business requires me to complete 35 hours of work experience, this time is giving me a valuable insight into accountancy.

Did you have a mentor or someone guiding you during your placement? How did they contribute to your experience?

During my placement, I worked with both Sophie, who is HB Accountants’ most recent Business Administration Apprentice, and her Manager, Vicki. They were both so helpful and happy to answer all of my questions. They both set me tasks and told me how to do them properly and gave me guidance when I needed it. They are both lovely people to work with and I knew they would help me anything that I didn’t understand.

How important do you think mentorship is for individuals in the early stages of their careers?

I think mentorship is crucial for individuals in the early stages for their career, especially if they have never worked in that specific industry before. If people aren’t assigned a mentor when starting a new job, they may not understand the tasks they have to complete.

Has this work experience influenced your career goals or aspirations?

Yes absolutely. I had an idea that I wanted to be an accountant, I wasn’t really sure what was included in the role. Having gained more insight into the various roles accountants play within business, I now possess a better understanding. I know I want to find an accountancy apprenticeship going forward.

What advice would you give to future work experience students considering finding a placement

I would tell them to contact companies directly. They could try making contact on LinkedIn as well as emailing via the company website. When starting the work experience, do not be nervous at all, as everyone is so welcoming. Expect to learn a lot, I have!

And lastly Abigail, how would you describe the overall impact of your work experience placement on your personal and professional growth?

Personal and professional growth is so important. The team at HB Accountants have introduced me to the workplace. They have taught me how to communicate with clients, made me realise I am a fast learner and can pick up new software when shown. It’s been brilliant. Thank you to all the Team at HB Accountants.

It was a pleasure to have Abigail join HB Accountants for her 35 hour work experience placement. She took to the workplace like a duck to water and am sure she will succeed in anything she puts her mind to – all the very best in your journey Abigail

Karen chase | Director | HB Accountants

The Value of Work Experience

HB Accountants are a training firm and encourage other businesses to consider offering work experience placements – be it for A level students, T level students or students studying courses at a local college. We have championed apprenticeships for many years. Supporting the local community/encouraging other businesses to offer apprenticeships and raise awareness in the value of apprenticeships.

HB Accountants want to raise awareness of our sector and increase diversity within it, expand our network and peer-to-peer support opportunities, inspire young people to consider the apprenticeship route, and give back to our local community, whilst developing a future talent pipeline.

We are a proud Top 50 SME Apprentice Employer and enjoy watching our apprentices develop their skills, their confidence and their network. And we actively encourage them to represent HB Accountants at high profile events.

If you’d like to learn more about apprenticeships and talk to our current crop of apprentices, give us a call. We are always happy to share our experiences and opportunities. If you’d like to explore starting an apprenticeship with us, don’t be shy – reach out to us. We’re genuinely happy to talk.

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