August 2011, and it was the moment I had been waiting for/dreading like so many other 18 year olds. It was results day. To say that I was disappointed when I opened that envelope would be an understatement. I had done well at school through my GCSEs and should have been on course to get good grades but unfortunately I had let life get the better of me by having a part time job and going out a little too often…it showed in my results. Achieving 2 Cs and a D I did not know what to do next. The applications I had begun to make for jobs were going to be rejected simply because I hadn’t got at least Bs in A level History, English Literature and Maths.
I managed to find a position at a slightly smaller accountancy firm in the restructuring and recovery department, which was a quick learning curve. I learnt so much about, not just the job, but life in an office environment and I definitely feel like I grew up a lot.
3 years later and I decided that it was time for a change and I needed to throw myself back into studies, so that’s when I once again began my search. I was nervous about looking for jobs, thinking that my grades were going to continue to hold me back from positions that I knew I could be successful in It was a relief to find that the boundary that had previously been in my way when applying to Grant Thornton was no longer there. I could not have been more impressed the recruitment process. Grant Thornton wanted to know about me as a person – the fact that I did not have certain A level results (although was considered as part of my overall application) was no longer the sole basis. They could see that I had experience and that I had a passion to succeed and after a couple of months of tests and an assessment day I was offered my place on the Accelerate programmes within the restructuring team.
Now I had my place the reality of having to pass exams set in. Was I going to be good enough? I didn’t want to let myself down or these people that believe in me and took a chance on someone that would not have previously fitted their academic criteria.
What a relief it was on joining to have been sent on a gruelling but hugely beneficial training course at Bradenham (Grant Thornton’s own training centre), so that when I turned up at college I already had a good understanding of the content being taught. The college tutors were supportive and answered any of my questions and my department allowed me to study if in the office if I had completed my work. I could not have asked for a more supportive network of people and I am pleased to say that 12 months later I have passed 6 exams first time.
A level grades are important and I do wish I had worked harder on them but I would not change my life experiences for anything. Changes in academic requirements when applying for jobs just shows that being successful is no longer only about a letter on a piece of paper, it’s about how you interact with people, the ideas you have and experiences and mistakes that you have learnt from. I could not be happier with the removal of these requirements and I have been so fortunate to have discussed my experiences with not only other students that are currently wondering what to do next if they do not get the grades they want but even with the BBC. Spreading the word that there are bright people out there who are perfectly capable of passing their exams and being successful is paying off and I am pleased to see that many other firms are now following suit.
Let’s continue to break down barriers!