Mature student and mother of two, Rebecca Early, is not waiting around to make her first career move – as she lands a part time accountancy job during her degree.
Rebecca, 34 from Northampton, is in the second year of an Accounting and Finance BSc (Hons) course and has started a part time role at local accounting firm, Broadwing Accountancy.
Rebecca followed in her Dad’s footsteps – a former University of Northampton alumnus, in entering higher education as a mature student. A determined undergraduate, she has faced a great deal of adversity in her family life and feels that life is about taking chances.
She said: “I left school with high GCSE grades in all subjects but didn’t complete my A Levels because I had my first child. I had my second child at 25 and unfortunately when I was 27, my husband became seriously ill with epilepsy and we still live with the effects of that to this day.
“It made me decide however that we would learn to live life with a little more risk because you just don’t know what is going to happen in the long term.”
Rebecca has carried this mindset into her studies: “I have always been good at maths, especially mental arithmetic and budgeting, a trait I inherited from my Dad. However, having had my daughter at a young age, I didn’t feel that I could give my time to a career in Accounting. With the support of my husband I have been able to complete my first year and half of my second year at University with high grades.”
Eager to get a foot on the career ladder sooner rather than later, Rebecca spotted an opportunity when she met Broadwing director, Brian Munjanja, during the university’s Employability Week.
She said: “The university hosted an Employability Week, and our lecturer Karen Mustard had arranged a week crammed full of local employer talks in our lectures. Brian was one of the employers that spoke to us in my session and I was really interested in him and his business model.
“I was initially looking for a student placement year but I couldn’t commit to a whole year out of study. I approached him via LinkedIn and asked him to look over my CV. I lack the experience in an accounting role so I knew I was on the back foot, however Brian and his partner Martin, invited me in for an informal interview.
“I was honest with them about the fact that I didn’t want a placement year but I wanted to work for a local firm. I explained that I am a highly motivated person, who is timely and hard working. What I lacked in experience, I would make up for in the commitment I would bring to the company. They emailed the next day confirmed a job offer for the two days I currently don’t have lessons at university.”
As a mature student with so many commitments, Rebecca admits it can be hard to balance your personal life with work and studies.
She added: “This new role does make it hard to keep up with my university work load but I am determined to get the experience so as always, I will find a way to juggle it all. I have received loads of support from my new boss and course tutors and am excited by what the future holds.
“As a mature student, you need to want it. Not just half-heartedly pursuing a degree, but actively involving yourself in seeking out experience relevant to your degree. It’s really hard as a mature student because there are so many other demands on your time.
“Being organised is key as is staying on top of the work load. Although it seems obvious attending classes every week, reading the pre-work and completing the homework will give you the skills you need to be successful in the exams.
“Lecturers understand when you can’t attend because your child is sick, but politeness goes a long way and emailing your lecturer to apologise and explain enables the lecturer to engage with you and assist you where possible to catch up. Be prepared for late nights of study and a fast pace of life for 9 months of the year. University is hard but it is also invigorating and stimulating. I find myself being challenged intellectually and enjoying it.”
For more information on Accounting and Finance BSc (Hons), please visit the course page.