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The first week: School vs. Apprenticeship

Jamilah
Simpson
Digital Marketing Apprentice

Going back to school after six weeks in the sun (although I can’t say much for the London weather) was always a daunting experience for me. It was a chance to start anew - wipe the slate clean. Being an introvert, I was always a bag of nerves when I had to meet new peers, form good relationships with my teachers and maintain the high standards of my work. Going into a full time job was no different…

As soon as I finished my A Levels I was on the hunt for an apprenticeship. I had never been in a corporate environment before, let alone had a retail job. The idea of going to work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, was intimidating to say the least. I remember feeling nervous but excited to start my apprenticeship. A chance to work in an industry I loved. A chance to build on my skills. A chance to begin my career. 

The first week at Google was more than I was expecting. We had Noogler (“new Google employee”) training which consisted of an introduction to company policies, your team and your new working environment. Pretty standard to any job right? What made this week unforgettable to me was feeling welcomed into the company as if I was always supposed to be there. I was introduced to my team with an informal lunch, where I felt at ease to get to know them. I also had 1:1 chats with everyone on my team, where I could ask them questions about their journey into Google, what their best moments were and their top tips on how to make sure I settled in properly. All this was extremely helpful to me as I was able to understand what it really means to work in a globalised company, and to work as part of a team. 

When I asked my colleagues and family what people thought of their first week in a new job, I had a lot of positive responses. 

“Meeting new people.” 

“Being involved in team outings”.

“Getting taught company practices.”

When I think back to the first few days at school after a summer holiday or half term break, I can remember feeling both dread and excitement. Dread, because it meant having to do work again, but exciting as I was finally able to get back into a routine. I’ve always had a problem of getting bored from being out of school for too long (said no one ever), but it meant being able to have a real reason to leave the house everyday. Don’t get me wrong, going out to enjoy the sun or chill with friends was what summer was all about, but being back at school gave me a feeling of ambition. 

The main difference, for me, with going back to school or work for me was the level of responsibility I had. Going back to school was never easy, but I had guidance and time to get back into a routine. Since starting full time work, I’ve realised that you’re pretty much left to your own devices (both literally and figuratively, especially if you work in a tech company!). Unlike school lessons, no one is there to “hold your hand” and give you step-by-step instructions on what to do, how to do it and who to do it with. This was something I had to adjust to pretty quickly as I was given tasks (with little guidance) almost as soon as I sat down at my desk on my first day. No complaints - it felt good to be seen as a working professional and treated as an equal to others on my team (all of who had years of experience on me). Although sometimes I miss my teacher’s guidance, I’ve learnt to take responsibility for my own work and to ask questions if I was unsure about anything. As part of the WhiteHat community, I have unlimited support from both my coach and wider apprentice network. This has made my apprenticeship journey more enjoyable and easy to adjust to the working life.  

The question left on my mind is what do you most look forward to during that first week of starting school or work? But also, what makes you want to extend summer and make it an endless time?


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