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Should I go to university or go straight into work?

A-Level results are in and it's decision time... Do you go to university or start your career straight away?

Deciding what path to take after school can be daunting, especially with so many routes available – should you go to university to continue your education, take a gap year and travel the world, or get stuck into your career? As the saying goes – the world is your oyster! 

We spoke to two employees from our Jersey office to find out more about their decision and how it shaped their career trajectory. Nicole chose to stay in full time education and go to university, whilst Conor decided to head straight to work and start climbing the career ladder after finishing his A-levels.

Nicole Goddard, Client Relationship Manager – 27

Tell us about your education?

I went to Jersey College for Girls and then went to the UK to do my A-levels. After school, I applied to Cardiff University to study Biomedical Science. The university really appealed to me as they had a great reputation for sports. I studied for three years and my third-year dissertation was actually published in the International Journal of Exercise Science!

Why did you apply to join the Aztec Group?

I had heard really good things about the company from friends and family. I was told it was a great place to grow personally as well as professionally, which was important to me. The training and career development opportunities really stood out from everywhere else and I felt they were too good to miss! My dad encouraged me to apply for the trainee Audition Day after seeing an advert. I sent in my CV and was immediately invited for an interview; they offered me the role before the Audition Day even took place, which was a great start!

What professional qualifications have you done / are you doing?

Aztec supported me through studying for the ICSA (Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators) Level 4 Certificate in International Finance and Administration (IFA 4) and an ICSA Level 5 Diploma in International Finance and Administration (IFA 5). The IFA 4 took around a year and a half to complete, and IFA 5 took another two years. I also did lots of additional training and development through our in-house Aztec Academy when I joined the business, to learn as much about the industry as I could.

Where do you see your career in five years’ time?

Still at Aztec! The company gifts everyone a three-month sabbatical after 10 years with them. Mine is due in four years’ time and I plan to spend some time travelling.

If you could give your younger self one career tip what would it be? 

I’ve always told myself to listen to my gut. If you walk into a place and you get a good feeling about it – give it a go. That’s what I did with Aztec and it’s been great!

Conor Hall, Financial Reporting Manager – 24

Tell us about your education?

I did my GCSE’s at school, leaving in 2011. I then went on to college for my A-Levels where I studied maths, biology, business studies and Physics. I chose not to go to university, I wanted to get a head start on my career, and I knew financial services would be a good fit for my personality too, as I liked working with numbers in school and I’m quite analytical.

Why did you apply to join the Aztec Group?

I was eager to start my career and start earning my own money somewhere where I could progress. I heard great things about Aztec and it sounded like it ticked all the boxes for me. I knew that they supported employees through professional qualifications and offered structured career progression, and that they had a great sports and social life.

What professional qualifications have you done / are you doing?

I started studying for the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification in 2013, which took me four years to complete, becoming a Qualified Chartered Accountant in 2017 at 22. Studying and working was intense, but I had great support from the Aztec Academy and friends within the Group. At 24, I’m now a manager and am responsible for two direct line reports and their professional development. Some of my peers who went to university and got degrees, however, are still in entry level positions and in the early stages of their professional qualifications.

Where do you see your career in five years’ time?

With Aztec (hopefully in a new exotic office)! It sounds a bit cheesy, but I genuinely love my job. Aztec has given me such a springboard in terms of career progression and I have been recognised and rewarded for my development whilst being continually stretched and supported to reach my full potential.

What makes the Aztec Group a great place to work?

The thing that stands out to me is the people here, and Aztec’s commitment to them. Employee engagement is crucial to our success and you can really see the attention to this across the Group. We even have a team dedicated to employee engagement initiatives like running people focus working groups, manager days, social events and of course AztecFest!

If you could give your younger self one career tip what would it be?

Be passionate about every challenge you face.

It’s well worth remembering that choosing to go straight into employment doesn’t signal the end of your education or freedom. Whilst there are many things to consider when looking for a potential employer, such as starting salary, benefits package, office culture, and the sports and social life, perhaps the most important thing to look for is what training and professional development opportunities are on offer. A company that prioritises your training and supports you through professional qualifications will give you the best possible foundations, and a head start on a great career.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our A-level student and graduate opportunities, visit our Discover page or get in touch with our friendly HR team on careers@aztecgroup.co.uk.


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