We talk to Sixth Former, Alicia Stratton, about her apprenticeship plans at JP Morgan when she finishes Year 13 soon…

What is it you’re doing after St Edward’s?

I’ve secured a JP Morgan Financial Services Apprenticeship, this apprenticeship will give me several qualifications in finance. Initially, I will do a Level 4 Investment Operations Specialist Apprenticeship, working towards the CISI Investment Operations Certificate. On completion of this, I will progress onto working towards the CISI Diploma in Investment Operations and the Level 6 Financial Services Professional Apprenticeship. Upon completion of the Level 6 Apprenticeship, I will receive a full honours degree in Applied Finance from the University of Exeter. Alongside studying, I will be working 4 days a week working with one of JP Morgan’s teams which could be from a number of areas: investment operations, technology, compliance or finance, where I will be developing my skills, contributing to the business and applying skills learnt from my studies to the position I will be working in at the office. Obviously, I would like to stress that this opportunity is subject to my grade attainment in my A-Levels.

How did you hear about the apprenticeship?

I came across this apprenticeship when completing research into what my post-18 options were during the summer between starting my A-Level studies 2 years ago. Whilst I was predominantly set on aiming to get A-level grades that would get me to university, I never ruled out an apprenticeship. So, when I stumbled upon the JP Morgan Degree Apprenticeship, I was keen to learn more. So much so, I applied to JP Morgan’s Think Ahead Summer School in the November of the same year in order to not only learn more about the apprenticeship but the company also.

What are you hoping to do in the future?

In this apprenticeship it gives you the chance to be offered a full-time position within the company, whilst this isn’t guaranteed, it is certainly a prospect. Therefore, this is certainly something I will work and aim towards during my apprenticeship. As I wish to have a career in financial services and work for a large multinational corporation, JP Morgan is certainly one of the best companies to do this with.

Why did an apprenticeship appeal to you?

In terms of an apprenticeship, the biggest thing that appealed to me was the opportunity to simultaneously study a specific academic subject and apply this immediately in the workplace. For myself, I see this as an immense opportunity to develop myself to a larger extent than if I just went to university. Obviously, there is a financial benefit to choosing the apprenticeship route over the university route. The opportunity to have a fully funded degree and therefore having zero student debt is certainly a massive benefit. As well as the fact I will be able to earn whilst I learn on a salary gives me an element of financial freedom. But this isn’t the fundamental reason for choosing to go down the apprenticeship route, as my apprenticeship allows me to start my career from the age of 19 rather than waiting for university graduation and starting my career at 21 or 22 which is something that appeals to me.

Any tips for fellow students?

Something I did that massively helped my application to JP Morgan was successfully applying to the JP Morgan Think Ahead Summer School which allowed me to learn more about what role a large financial institution such as JPM has within the world of finance. Additionally, a large focus of the summer school was around the degree apprenticeship. They hosted past and present apprentice Q&A sessions, where we could ask about apprentices’ role and for any tips they might have for applicants. By attending this summer school, it allowed me to skip the first telephone call round of the application process because the summer school required a virtual video interview to get a place. I would like to stress that this isn’t critical to a successful application to the apprenticeship scheme. There are several qualities and skills that they want to see within the application process. Thinking about answers to questions such as: Why JPM? What area of the bank are you interested in working in? Career plans? Why an apprenticeship? In addition, keep on top of current affairs and how they would impact a bank such as JPM.

My general advice regarding any apprenticeship application processes would be:

  • Be well prepared: Research in detail what the company does with knowledge that you can bring up in any interviews.
  • Be confident: Being confident in yourself and your abilities, it really translates well in interviews! You can do anything you can put your mind to!
  • Explaining times where you have shown the ability of working in teams. How does my past experiences make me an outstanding candidate? Have you done any projects that you are proud of and why? What was the most challenging part of that project and how did you overcome it?
  • If there is an opportunity for a cover letter (sometimes they’re optional) write one! In addition to your CV you can really show who you are as a person.

There are many apprenticeship options available to students upon leaving school, you can get more advice from our Careers Manager in school.