508373_Deloitte_BrightStartReading_BlogHeaderDeloitte team members from left to right: Ella Kemp (BrightStart), Andy Gardner (Summer Vacation Scheme Graduate), Katie Barrows (Scholar), Zoë Dexter (BrightStart), Victoria Elkins (BrightStart), Claire Siviter (Talent Director – South Region) and Hugh Knudsen (Scholar).

Zoë is a BrightStart Apprentice working in our Reading office. Zoë identified that when giving careers advice, her school placed a lot of emphasis on traditional university routes and lacked awareness of alternative pathways. To try and remedy this, she proposed the idea of an essay competition, designed to challenge local students to consider a wider range of school leaver opportunities. A small team, led by two of our BrightStart apprentices, pulled together to make this happen. We caught up with Zoë to find out more...

What inspired you to set up the school essay competition?

I went to a local state school and whilst the school had a wealth of experience in helping students to prepare university applications, it wasn’t aware of some of the alternative routes that were out there. I spoke to some of my fellow BrightStarts, and it seemed that many had shared the same experience! The aim of the competition was to engage with both schools and students to promote awareness of the opportunities that Deloitte offers to school leavers. We also wanted to inspire them to pursue careers in business.

What’s the best part of your job?

I’ve been at Deloitte for two years now, and I love the variety I get as part of my role. I’ve been given real responsibility early on – which is a challenge I enjoy! The essay competition is a perfect example of this: I suggested the idea to the senior management team and not only did they listen, but a few months on and we’ve made it into a reality. It’s amazing that here at Deloitte we’re given these opportunities, even right at the very start of our careers. No one is too junior to contribute and make an impact.

Is Deloitte different to what you expected?

It’s a very friendly place! I’ve met some great people here. Having come straight from school and not having had any experience of working in a corporate environment, I really didn’t know what to expect. I think what surprised me most about Deloitte is how friendly and supportive all the people here are.

Do you have any advice for students considering an apprenticeship?

My advice would be to research all the options available to you carefully – both university and other routes – then work out what’s best for you and go for it wholeheartedly. The best way of getting a feel for whether something is right for you is to attend as many of the events on offer as possible – Deloitte host a range of drop in sessions, careers fairs and insight days. Speak to the people currently in the role to get a feel for what’s involved.

What impact do you think the competition has had?

We received a phenomenal response from the local community, and once the competition had closed we hosted an awards event where the winners were announced. A few of the senior management team have said that it was one of the most successful and engaging events they’ve attended at Deloitte! The students had the opportunity to hear real-life stories from some of our apprentices, graduates and partners, and did a great job at quizzing them on their careers to date! We were able to engage with them and tell them all about our school leaver opportunities and why Deloitte is such a great place to work. Our three overall winners each received a cash prize and the opportunity to complete a work shadowing placement in our Reading office.

What are your future career plans?

When I first started out on the BrightStart scheme, I wasn’t sure what my future career ambitions were and never imagined I’d be able to work for a company like Deloitte. The BrightStart scheme has inspired me and made me realise that I can do anything I want. I already work with a broad range of businesses and clients, and now I’m two years in I’m taking on more complex work. I couldn’t say exactly where I want to be in five years’ time, but I feel confident I’m growing and learning all the time.


Over the coming weeks we’ll be hearing more about the school essay competition and having conversations with some of the students who took part. To find out more about the big impact it’s had in the local community stay tuned...

You can find out more about our BrightStart higher apprenticeship here.

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