• Role: 1 Year Work Placement returning to take up ACA
  • Location: Watford
  • University: Nottingham Trent
  • Degree: BA Business

Alex Russell-Mills

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What was your reason for wanting to do a placement year whilst at university?
I wanted to prolong university, as I didn’t think I wouldn’t be ready to go straight into work after 3 years at university. I also was unsure what I wanted to do as a career, so a placement year would give me a great taster whilst being paid!

Expectations versus Reality?
I thought the environment would be a lot harder for a Work Placement student as I assumed you would be like a fish out of water. In fact, its very student focused with a very positive career path upwards. People put me at ease immediately and helped me with my work whenever I needed it. I learned more on the job skills.

What has the placement year given you personally?
Undoubtedly confidence! I am able to do things now in my personal life that I would have been anxious about before. Of course having a salary for the year is an eye opener. I have a good group of friends here which extend beyond the student group, not just the same age range.

Why are you returning to study ACA qualification with Hillier Hopkins after university, and what did you learn from the current students?
This placement year has made me realise I want to do the ACA qualification. I’ve spent a year developing the skills, it makes it so much easier to go back.
I have observed the students who are studying the ACA and I can see what I will be walking into. I realise now how hard the qualification is to achieve but when I see the students succeed with their exams, I want to be like them. I’m hoping it might be a bit easier when I return after university as I know the systems and people.

How has the placement year helped you to focus for your finals next year?
In my 1st and 2nd years at university I would go to lectures then go home and not have a defined structure to my day. Having worked 9 -5.30 I now realise how much you can achieve in a day and I am now totally focused for my most important year of university.

What advice would you give a student who is thinking of taking up a placement year with Hillier Hopkins?
Get involved with everything including social activities. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions – no one minds if you do and they are willing to help. Talk to as many people as you can, not just the students, as it makes you look forward to work when you have a wider network of people. The Bookkeeping course Hillier Hopkins offers is really useful. You get sent on this a few weeks into your year after you’ve done the work for a while. Make the most of it as it really helps you to see connections between theory and practical application.

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