12 October 2023

An inside look at a degree apprenticeship: Jamil Rashid from J.P. Morgan

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Are you considering a degree apprenticeship? We have the inside scoop.

Back in 2019, Jamil Rashid, a CIB Operations Apprentice at J.P. Morgan, joined our panel at The RateMyApprenticeship Awards to share his thoughts and experience as an aspiring apprentice. 

Today, he’s completing a degree apprenticeship at one of the world’s largest investment banks. What an inspiring journey!

We caught up with Jamil to find out what it’s really like working as an apprentice whilst studying for a degree.

What made you choose a degree apprenticeship over going to university?

The idea of studying at a Russell Group University, which was the University of Exeter, and working at one of the top investment banks in the world seemed like a better career path than just the conventional university route. It was the best of both worlds.

What would you consider the key benefits of doing a degree apprenticeship?

The benefits, regardless of whether it is a degree apprenticeship or not, are that you gain experience and a salary at the same time.

I feel like nowadays, experience is more valuable rather than just having a degree. Also, when you’re earning money at a young age, you can set yourself for your future e.g. saving up for a mortgage.

How did you find the transition from school to working life? 

The transition was very different. I went from studying in classrooms and being around students my age, to being in a fancy office in Canary Wharf around some very intelligent minds from all over the world.

Working life is very different too, as the days are longer, and you definitely have more responsibilities to deal with when you’re working at a big firm.

Instead of being tasked with homework, and assignments that were designed for A-level students, I was now working on real-life projects with experienced bankers.

Would you say you have missed out on the social aspect of university?

No, I definitely have not. At J.P. Morgan, I have made some really great friends in my cohort and we have regular socials. This could be going out after work or doing activities together.

Also, as I am earning a salary now, it is easier for me to do things in London as I have money to spend. I feel like I prefer my lifestyle as I am financially independent and I am free to spend on things I like.

How did you prepare for your assessment days/ interviews? Any top tips to share? 

One of the key things would be to research the company you are applying for and see what the company’s values are. 

You will often see they look for good communication skills, teamwork and determination. If you can show these during your interviews and assessment days, it will look really good to the assessors.

Also, having industry knowledge related to the field you are applying to helps because it shows you are interested and passionate about the sector.

There are loads of example questions online, such as competency, motivational, and general interview questions. Practice responses to these beforehand because you do not want to be caught off guard during your interview.

Did you face rejection before securing your degree apprenticeship? 

Definitely, it is all a numbers game. 

I applied to around ten apprenticeships, and I only had a few offers. There are numerous stages you go through and a lot of other applicants – so you’re bound to get rejected.

There’s tons of good apprenticeships out there, so I was applying to loads knowing that I would eventually get one. You have to remember everything happens for a reason too – if I was to ever get rejected, then maybe that apprenticeship was not for me.

What is your favourite thing about working for your company? 

It is definitely the environment and the people there. J.P. Morgan is full of some really talented and intelligent people who inspire me to be greater. Plus, I learn a lot from them.

The office is very nice too – there are loads of amenities and it is very modern. Being in that environment every day is very motivating.

What advice would you give to someone considering doing a degree apprenticeship? 

I would definitely say to consider it as a very good alternative to university, if not, better!

You’re getting a salary, experience and a free degree! If you want to do a degree apprenticeship, research thoroughly to see what apprenticeship you want to apply to.

When you find one, look at the job requirements and the company’s values, and keep that in mind throughout the application process.

What were the biggest learnings from doing your apprenticeship?

I have definitely become more mature and more of an adult since starting my apprenticeship. Being in a corporate environment with colleagues more experienced and older than you forces you to adapt your mindset and the way you carry yourself.

Also, my technical knowledge in regard to banking has definitely increased! I actually understand how investment banking works, and the technical side of things too.

Do you want to earn a salary AND gain a degree? RateMyApprenticeship.co.uk has tons of degree apprenticeships you can apply to: