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We spoke with a selection of young people about how they discovered the apprenticeship route and discovered that it was often through chance encounters rather than a deliberate decision-making process. While there wasn't a common thread to how Aliyah, Caxie and Syeda found out about apprenticeships, all three have found the mixture of applied learning and immediate career progression worked for them.
When I left college, an apprenticeship had never crossed my mind. Apprenticeships weren’t something talked about in college or school. My college was very university focused, which made it difficult for me to find alternative routes. Once I finished college, I took an events course in festivals, then went on to work with an events company photographing their events and managing their social media platforms. I had a new-found passion for events and discovered that it is a very difficult industry to become established and find experience in. Luckily, the events course had given me the opportunity to meet lots of professionals and gain a mentor in the process (one I am still in touch with now!) and so we went for a coffee catch up where he said to me, “Have you thought about doing an apprenticeship? It would be a great way for you build up your experience in the industry, gain knowledge and get paid.”
He found a Community Arts apprenticeship with the William Morris Gallery. I was very nervous to apply as I didn’t think I fit the specification, but he encouraged me by saying even if you don’t know something, you can learn, we all make mistakes and this is how we grow. This could be a great opportunity for you to showcase your skills, get involved and show them who YOU are. And with this, the positive thoughts started rolling, and I said to myself, “You know what I will go for it. The worst that can happen is they say no.” I had never gone to an interview before, I’d never practiced. The prep they taught us in school was rubbish! So, with Google and a pukka pad, I practiced with myself in the mirror.
And I’m happy to say that the interview went well. I got the Community Arts apprenticeship with the William Morris Gallery, and I felt honoured. I was their first apprentice and the youngest person in the team. I felt like it was as much a learning experience for them as well as me. Throughout my time there, I can say that completing that apprenticeship is one of my proudest moments because not only did I learn a lot about the industry and the workplace, I learnt a lot about myself. I faced many challenges and situations I’d never had to deal with before, but I managed to get through it all. This really changed my perception of apprenticeships and gave me knowledge on looking for opportunities in future.
Now I am completing a WhiteHat Business Administration apprenticeship with Ashbury Training and I know it sounds cringey, but I love it! This being my second apprenticeship, I learned how a few things shouldn’t be done and this time around I knew what to look for. This is a really big thing for me because my end goal is to have my own events production company, so I need to learn the admin skills and have substantial experience for people to take me seriously. I feel like I’m learning so much. I can’t believe I’ve been at Ashbury for 4 months now, the time has flown by. Each day is different, which is great. There are so many things to learn and get involved with. I haven’t done a tea or coffee run since I started! I know the usual perception of apprenticeships is doing boring jobs like making tea/coffee and photocopying!
I really like my colleagues, we get on well. And because we are a small team, I have a voice, I feel like I’m making a difference every day. I’m very involved with projects and meetings as well. There are two other apprentices in the building who I regularly chat to, it’s nice having other people who are doing an apprenticeship as well. I really enjoy my coursework, it’s very organisation focused and almost doesn’t feel like coursework because of this. The system Fuse which is used to complete coursework and learn more about the work life is great. It’s easy to use and you can interact with other apprentices. My coach is very supportive and I appreciate that I can come to him with news good or bad.
My case is a little unique in terms of I didn’t even know if I was staying in the country after my results because I was having visa problems at that time. The process is excruciatingly long and tedious so that unstable situation helped me fully realise that anything can happen and at the end of the day — I will be okay. For the visa reasons, I was entered as an international student for university applications so I had to pay £12,000. Sorry? I don’t have that kind of money. I kept my options open by deferring the university offer but I was in that mindset of wanting to take a break from studying and exams so I took a gap year.
By the start of this year, my visa was finalised. I then wanted to do something more in line with my passion which is sport and in a work category that is quite open so I was just googling as you do, and I landed on one of WhiteHat’s job listings! From then on, it’s history.
It’s been great. With my position in the company, I get to observe a lot in the office; how people think up strategies, conduct business and communicate with each other are skills that I can take wherever I go from here. My WhiteHat coach Xhevat has been amazing, he always challenges me and makes sure I know what I’m doing. The colleagues I have at work are years ahead of me but they make me so comfortable. The WhiteHat team, community and fellow apprentices are on the ball all the time and it keeps me excited for future activities and opportunities. I’m in the perfect place for my potential to be realised.
It was already September and this was probably the most uncertain time of my life so far. Luckily, I ended up finding a sales representative job at a marketing company. I did this for half a year with many ups and downs. A time came for a new start so I started job hunting again. I came across Whitehat and some other apprenticeship providers. Whitehat was the most supportive and had a variety of interesting roles in many companies that I found very impressive. Whitehat completely changed my view on apprenticeships.
Now I work in the sales team of a cloud communications company with so many opportunities and career paths. At the same time I am completing a qualification in Business Administration which is integrated in my job role (no homework!) and provided by Whitehat. This is awesome and I am so happy that I dropped out and found Whitehat later on.
Being an apprentice has widened my perspective of the working world. I’m learning so much about an industry, picking up new skills and experiences, and meeting new people. I’m getting access to so much knowledge that I would never find in a lecture hall. I’m learning practically, gaining new insights and building my professional network. I have a coach and am part of a community with other Whitehat apprentices. I’ve even been to the Google office because Whitehat do many events!