From a brush to a pen, how I came to work in finance…


Millie Pollard B&W Bridging

Starting a new job, in a new field of work, with new people can be very frightening. Engaging with a company, to get the job in the first place, is even scarier.

Therefore, finding a recruitment agency helped take the weight off my shoulders, and able to take a step back to prepare myself for my new venture.

My name is Millie, I am eighteen and before I worked in finance, I had a vastly different job. I was a painter and decorator for a company, which made glamping shepherd huts.

When I started the job, I was fresh out of secondary school, and out of the first lockdown. Having to leave school early, and to have been given predicted grades, was already a bit of a setback for me.

I felt as if my knowledge was wasted, and maybe that if I had the chance to sit my exams, I could have done better in some subjects. Nonetheless, I was happy with my grades and felt that they would help me to get into a role I loved.

Another setback occurred when my chosen apprenticeship course after secondary school had been halted, as the companies and colleges were shut down due to COVID.

During the first lockdown, and after the rules had been lifted, I tried relentlessly to find an apprenticeship in a veterinary surgery. However, no one could take me. Therefore, through a relative, I found a nearby job and used this chance to take a “gap year.”

I worked there for a year, and saw the progression of a company, from struggling to find money for materials, to booming with customers and success.

When I was ready to take a step into a career path, I began to look for jobs and apprenticeships in the fields of property, design, and management.

I spoke to a few friends, who were in apprenticeships and most told me not to focus solely on one industry or idea.

This was because you aren’t always able to find everything you are looking for in one job, so it is best to keep your eyes peeled for all aspects, in varying jobs.

I applied for an apprenticeship on the ‘Professional Apprenticeships’ website, for a job in business admin roughly 30 minutes from my house.

Later, that week, I had a call from one of the recruiters at the apprenticeship agency. She informed me that there was a property-based finance apprenticeship, much closer to me and that it would be an admin role with progression to management.

This was just what I wanted, and how perfect for me, to only be a 5-minute walk from home!

As I knew that eventually I would like to have a career in management, I chose this job in finance, because it would provide a new experience and insight on the working world.

It would help build my confidence, character, knowledge, and skills ready for when I knew exactly which career, I wanted to follow.

I started this job, with a picture of what it might be like – a serious office, being expected to use technical calculations and complicated methodology.

Much to my surprise, it didn’t take long for me to be completely comfortable in this new workplace, which was in fact not all about mathematical processes and serious conversations.

The work is a good mixture of financial activities and underwriting, I get to load data onto spreadsheets and input formulas, but I also get to communicate with external stakeholders, such as investors, consultants, and suppliers.

Despite my belief that office life would be very mundane and quiet, the office is always positive and full of laughter. The balance of this, with serious meetings and debates, creates a great workplace for all.

As I continue to work at Black & White Bridging, I can appreciate the challenges and rewards, not only for myself, but also others at work.

All the team work extremely hard and are dedicated to the business. For some, seeing a clear outcome or success in their work is hard to get. Yet, they understand that if they stick to it there will be a worthwhile result at the end.

Rewards are always appreciated, and the management is extremely good at keeping employees motivated and positive.

Since starting here, I have already been given lots of rewards. From company events, new responsibilities and experiences, and the chance to really display my work and capabilities.

My advice to a student, looking to break into the financial industry, or any industry for that matter, is to have an open mind because our interests may alter, or we may lose interest in a career we once displayed considerable enthusiasm for.

So, having just one idea for a career limits the opportunities we may come across. I would also tell them to go out of their comfort zone.

I would have never thought to go into painting, however, because I did, I was able to find my way to the job I now have, and I wouldn’t have changed my experience for the world.

I am an employee, who doesn’t have as much pressure on my shoulders as some. So, I have been able to stand aside and witness our clients’ happiness and joy when they are finally able to see the end result of their investment.

All types of properties are big investments, not only financially but also mentally and physically. They often take a lot of work, and it can be very draining on an individual even if they are not the builder but are overseeing the project.

Especially now, as house prices are rising and the cost of living is increasing daily, it is a huge responsibility for anyone.

While our company works with property professionals and we don’t provide homeowner mortgages, it is certainly an interesting time to be working in property.

With homeownership being a very hot topic. I believe that owning a home means different things to different people.

For some, it’s a financial transaction and used to showcase their skills in design before selling the end product. For others, owning a home is much more. It represents pride, achievement, a sense of belonging and for those who wish to have a family it could mean to them, their forever home.

Therefore, I am very empathetic for everyone going through the homeowning/developing process and I quite frankly dread to think what the future will hold for my generation when it comes to trying to buy a property!

Nevertheless, I look forward to when I have the chance to buy my first home. Age aside, what does homeownership mean to you?