Predominately online through apprenticeship websites. The websites list out school leaver programmes and one of them was with Close Brothers. I did some research into Close Brothers to see who they were and then went to their open evening.
I felt that I was ready to go into the workplace to get real life experience and felt that the experience would be more useful to me than university and provide an opportunity to develop.
By Close Brothers being a smaller company, I felt that I could get greater exposure than I would at a large institution, especially being young. Close Brothers also have a smaller intake of school leavers, with only 5 on the programme, so you aren’t just a number.
It was a 2-year programme, starting my first year in Treasury. I rotated around 4 or 5 teams, ranging from customer service to marketing through to secured finance. The second year I moved to real estate, at Commercial Acceptances where I am now. In addition, I was studying for a professional qualification. The programme was varied, and I got a good flavour of different departments. The other side was a mixture of classroom learning, lessons every quarter, online learning, exams and coursework.
The programme gave me huge level of exposure to people inside the organisation and also to a lot of varied types of work. Even being young and relatively inexperienced, in first and second years you actually got to work on real transactions, actually making a difference inside the workplace. Early on, you work alongside senior people, which is useful for relationships and you start to build confidence and knowledge from a young age. By the time you come out of the programme, you have real useful experience of day-to-day work.
I’m a Lending Manager at Commercial Acceptances, in a cradle to grave role in bridging and development finance. I deal with origination, underwriting, to post drawdown asset management through to repayment of the loans. I have a team of 3 who help manage my portfolio, which I continue to grow.
I saw myself in the banking and finance world but not specifically in property. That’s one of the good things about the scheme, it gives you exposure to departments you never considered, and the course gave me the opportunity to explore different avenues and test them out. I didn’t actually know anything about the short-term property market, but the scheme led me to find something in property that I really enjoy.
I would recommend it 100%. You get to work and study at the same time, getting a qualification and improving academically, whilst at the same time, getting real experience, real connections, building your network and gaining knowledge that you can build on. With the ASPIRE programme, it gives you the opportunity to explore different areas including central functions and face to face roles, giving you the skillsets and experience you need to build a career.