How my Apprenticeship helped me into my chosen career
Shaping the future of learning
Let me take you back to August 2011. It’s A-Level results day and there I am, clutching my brown envelope containing what was to either guarantee my place in my chosen University or make for some awkward “you did your best” conversations over dinner.
It can be a very daunting time collecting your results - the results you’ve basically been working towards since your first moments in education. To me, everything seemed to point towards the same route: GCSEs, A-Levels, a Degree, a job. No flex. No scope for manoeuvre. All teenagers on the same one-track train towards career-hood.
By midday I was having those “you did your best” conversations. I didn’t get my top choice of university – so what? It’s nothing right? It sure felt like something at the time. Those next few hours I, along with hundreds of others around the country battled for those last University clearing spaces. In minutes, I went from setting my hopes on that one specific place to signing up to something totally random.
Life as a University Student
Day 1 of my university experience was strange. I was in a town I’d never visited, staying in a rented room with second years and post-grads because I was too late to get into halls. Days, weeks and months went by and I was still lacking enthusiasm. The day after my last first-year exam, I’d had enough. I walked to the student’s office and deregistered myself from the course – a big decision, but for once, it was my decision. I wasn’t willing to be pushed along that same route as everyone else anymore, wasting 2 more years of my life for something I wasn’t passionate about. So I went home and it felt good.
My parents were always so supportive of my decision to leave University which really helped. But what next? Although I felt better for taking charge of my life, I was in limbo. It felt like I’d fallen through the cracks and was going to end up doing something which I still wasn’t going to enjoy.
I started applying for jobs, volunteering, anything to increase my employability because if you don’t go to University, you have to get a job right? Wrong. In fact, there is an alternative, a great alternative and they’re called apprenticeships.
I’d always associated apprenticeships with more practical skills like plumbing, hairdressing, catering etc., so I never thought one would be right for me. But once I started researching, I was shocked. Turns out, there's an apprenticeship scheme in almost every industry, which makes them suitable for just about anyone. I’ve always had a passion for Digital Media so when I saw that I could do an apprenticeship in that area, I signed myself up. I used a local agency in Brighton to find my course and attended an open day.
At the open day, there were loads of local employers looking to take on apprentices. It was great getting to speak to them directly and hear what they were looking for and similarly, have them ask me what I wanted to get out of the apprenticeship. I think that was the first time I’d ever been asked what I wanted to get out of a qualification. At the end, we got to pick which employers we’d like to follow up. The local apprenticeship provider arranged interviews and presentations, just like a normal job interview.
This time I did get my first choice. I got a job with a local digital agency working with huge clients – a real job – that was scary!
Life as an Apprentice
Day 1 of my job was great. It felt amazing to be working in an industry - in my chosen career! It was exciting and fast paced. I spent 4 days on-the-job and 1 day at college each week. On-the-job I completed units which related to my work as well as studying things like industry awareness and how to behave in corporate situations. At college I completed units such as building a website, learning how to code and other skills which were extremely transferable back into work. Not only did I develop the required skills to do my job effectively but I started to build a network of connections with my colleagues, partners and clients, all whilst getting a salary!
By the end of my year as an apprentice I felt I’d affirmed my place within the company. My key skills, such as communication and writing, had developed massively and I was more confident than ever. I was offered a full-time position with a full salary.
My Career to Date
A few months later, a job came up aKineo – it was perfect for me. The interview went extremely well and I took up a position in January 2014. When I started my role at Kineo, some of my friends from college were still at University entering their last years. I’d completed an apprenticeship in that time, gained a first full-time job and was moving up and onto the next position in my career. I joined Kineo not as an apprentice, not as a graduate... but as an employee who now had the skills needed to be successful.
After a year at Kineo I applied for another role internally. In January 2015 I was promoted into my new role as Bid Co-ordinator working within the Learning Technologies UK sales team. I’ve established myself as an important member of the team and every day a fresh challenge awaits – I’m doing something I enjoy, something I chose to do.
What I have learnt from my Apprenticeship
I guess the key message I’d like to say is that you don’t have to follow the same path as everyone else. University isn’t the only option for young people – becoming an apprentice has opened so many doors for me and continues to do so. I think apprentices add enormous value to organisations, and companies can capture real talent by taking on apprentices. I hope my experience inspires businesses to invest in the next generation of employees and capture the talent young people have to offer.