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Q & A with Rosie O’Brien

The current state of lockdown has caused many businesses around the world to revise strategies, including sales, service delivery and recruitment, and EMA Training are no different.


Prior to lockdown, EMA put out an advert for a Finance Apprentice to support with internal accounting processes such as raising invoices, bank reconciliations, managing petty cash etc, so when the news regarding lockdown hit, we had to consider whether now would be a suitable time to onboard an apprentice.


I’m delighted to say that today marks Rosie’s 1-month anniversary in her employment at EMA Training as a Finance Apprentice! We are confident that we made the right decision recruiting when we did, and we believe that Rosie’s robust induction and support plan have been key to the success.


Virtual inductions, collaborative technology and working from home have become commonplace in many organisations, and we were keen to catch up with Rosie to see how she has settled in to her first professional job role in these unusual circumstances.

Q1 – Good morning Rosie, and welcome to Team EMA! Today marks your 1-month anniversary of joining EMA. Is this how you pictured being onboarded into your first professional job?


A1 – Not once in my whole life did I ever think I would be a part of a global pandemic; as I imagine many other people may also feel too – it’s just not something you ever expect to happen “these days”.


Since leaving school, I had never been sure of what I planned to do, but after a year out I decided I wanted to challenge myself. After securing my job with EMA around the beginning of March, my planned start date was April 1st, by which time the UK had gone into full lockdown. Scary times! Even scarier to be starting a new job, where you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, all the way from home. Meeting my new work colleagues via Microsoft Teams video chat isn’t exactly how I would ever imagine beginning a new job – but the level of kindness and support I have received since starting with EMA has been overwhelming, and I have felt extremely lucky to be a part of such a great company since the day I started.

Q2 – How have you found being inducted virtually into a new business? Do you think there are any benefits to being inducted in this manner?


A2 – Despite the daunting start, I have found a whole range of benefits to beginning a new job through virtual learning. Firstly, I can stay in my pyjamas for as long as I like!! But most importantly, I have been given the opportunity to develop individual working relationships with my colleagues and I have access to pretty much all of the tutoring and mentoring I could need within a business. For example, I have had unlimited access to Tracey’s support, EMA’s CEO, who has helped and guided my training on a daily basis – something we never would have had time for if we were still working in the office, along with everyone else at EMA offering with 1-to-1 support as and when I need it. As well as this, I have found that I am able to exercise more regularly now I have that little extra time in the morning by saving my 45 minute commute to EMA, which has really benefitted my mental health, as well as my physical health. As a whole, this positively affects my performance while working.


I genuinely don’t believe that businesses continuing with their recruitment/employment processes could be negatively affected by remote learning! Beginning an apprenticeship has not only been a big step in my career path, but it has also enabled me to prove a lot to myself. I have already developed some of the vital skills and experience I would require in any financial role, as well as taking on responsibilities which increase my contribution to the success of business at EMA.


Q3 – Since joining EMA, what projects have you been given and how are you finding the work?


A3 – Having never worked or studied in any area of finance or accountancy, everything I have done or participated in since starting with EMA has been new for me – literally ranging from sitting at a desk all day, to learning the processes of accounting software’s, or even creating excel spreadsheets. This is just a snippet of examples of the kinds of things I have learned already, as well as becoming Centre Manger for our IT institute (BCS), a Super User for OneFile, or creating a simple step-by-step PowerPoint guides to internal processes. Within learning the processes of accountancy software’s, I have been implementing learning from my AAT studies, such as bank reconciliation and double-entry bookkeeping. As I work to become AAT Qualified in the future, every task I complete contributes towards experience and understanding of AAT exam content.


While not every project I am set is the most complex, it is all new and exciting to me, and all contributes to my development and progress as an apprentice. I am really enjoying the level of responsibility I am being given, as well as the independence I have as both an employee and an apprentice. I am thoroughly enjoying my new role with EMA, and I look forward to each day closer to meeting everyone in real life!!

Q4 – As well as being an employee of EMA, you are also one of our apprentices. How have you found balancing your apprenticeship work with your daily task list? Do you feel as though you have the necessary support in place?


A4 – Personally, I would say I am at a great advantage to being both employed by EMA as well as studying through the hub. Everything I learn within my apprenticeship can be thoroughly explained from an on-the-job perspective too, which has really helped me in several situations where I might be struggling to understand one topic. Putting a concept into a situation which I deal with every day is extremely helpful when learning something new.


As previously mentioned, I find working with the same group of people as I study with extremely beneficial as AAT studies can be implemented and explained within examples of day to day tasks. For example, learning an area of my AAT studies and then being able to apply it to a task within my job role.


The support I receive as a colleague of everyone at EMA and as a learner has clear differences, but equal levels of encouragement and support. I also think being an employee of EMA supports my understanding of the business too, and I get to see EMA from a different point of view which other learners might not necessarily have the benefit of. I know a lot more about EMA Training as a company than I think I would do if I was only a learner there, and I think it’s really important to have this understanding for me to be able to develop the required relationships with tutors and mentors, as well as colleagues.

Q5 – What are you missing most about life prior to lockdown and how have you gone about adjusting your usual routines?


A5 – Similarly to the rest of the UK, I am missing friends and family the most (mostly the gin I would usually consume on a Saturday night with my friends), but I know it will be worth the long wait when this is all over. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am mostly getting through lockdown by fantasising about all the fun I plan to have after! As someone who has never really lived by a routine, I am adjusting to different emotions and feelings by trying to live by a flexible routine. Having only ever worked in retail throughout school and my gap year, I have never participated in regular exercise – I have been for 3 runs this week; I am a new woman!

Q6 – What would your advice be to a young person who is considering completing an apprenticeship with EMA?


A6 – Literally just go for it!! I don’t have much experience at all in terms of apprenticeships so far, and before beginning my apprenticeship I didn’t know a lot at all about the process… But I do not believe you will find a more supportive training provider with such a personal and holistic service. EMA is a great company and already have made such a difference to my future and in fact my self-confidence! But whatever you do, don’t let James take screenshots of your Microsoft Teams Video Call when you look like I did this morning!🤣