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One of the biggest draws of university is the social life - the opportunity to make new friends through your course, or in your halls of residence or sports teams, while enjoying all student life has to offer. There is a huge misconception that you would lose out on the social aspect if you chose to do an apprenticeship instead.
As part of the Apprentice Events Team at WhiteHat, I am hoping to quash these misconceptions by helping to host events that enable fellow apprentices to enjoy the apprentice social life and make friendships (events are just one part of the community offer at WhiteHat that make a vibrant social scene).
I caught up with WhiteHat apprentices Jamilah and Sydney, whom are both fellow members of the Events Team, about their opinions on why they think it is important to hold social events. I also spoke with Zaynah, who has attended numerous events throughout her apprenticeship journey.
Jamilah: I was worried that I wouldn’t have the ‘Uni’ social life as I’d be working for most of the week. However, since starting work and joining WhiteHat I’ve had opportunities to socialise with clients (at work) as well as with other apprentices.
Sydney: This was also one of my concerns. When I was completing my level two accounting with another apprenticeship provider I felt quite isolated and didn't really have many people who I could talk to. Most of the people on the course were much older than me and we didn't have anything in common. Since starting out at WhiteHat I have been to a number of social events and societies with Flight Club being my favourite so far [a social arranged by WhiteHat for apprentice leaders back in July].
Jamilah: It’s important to build social skills as well as professional skills as it will set you up with a range of skills that can be used both inside and outside the workplace. Socialising with other apprentices means you can learn about each other's work and build a network with people from all different industries.
Working full time doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. As I had just finished my A-Levels I wasn’t ready to stop all the fun, and was determined to make sure I could enjoy myself inside the workplace, as much as I did outside. Going into a completely new environment made me nervous but eager to meet new people. I’ve since made friends that I can count on both inside and outside of work, whether that be for work-related issues or more relaxed, socialising.
Zaynah: Following on from Jamilah’s points, I think socialising with apprentices and making new friends is an essential part of the apprenticeship journey. We are thrown straight into the industry and working in the ‘real world’ but we are still young, energetic and friendly. Our apprentice cohort will all face similar challenges and successes, it’s important to experience that with people we trust.
Zaynah: I have particularly enjoyed the monthly BAME socials (a social specifically for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic apprentices) as it’s a great opportunity for like-minded individuals to share their thoughts and experiences on personal matters. It feels like a safe space, like a community just for us to express ourselves, talk, eat good food and socialise.
Sydney: As mentioned before Flight Club has been my highlight so far! For those who don’t know, the Flight Club is a venue where you can take part in group dart matches whilst having a cocktail. The Flight Club was a social that was organised by WhiteHat for Hactivists and Influencers. Hacktivist and Influencers are a group of WhiteHat apprentices who are tasked with leading apprentice activities, speaking at school events and buddying up with new apprentices. The Flight Club was my favourite because I got to meet fellow apprentices in a social surrounding that was not focused around work. It was one of my first socials so I didn’t know many people going into it but by the end of the night, I had made a few new friends.
Jamilah: Being part of the events team has helped me with my leadership, organisation and project management skills. These are things I can use in both my personal and professional jobs.
Sydney: Being part of the events team has broadened my knowledge and increased my social circle which has definitely helped me in my day to day role. I now feel more confident to take part in discussions in the workplace.
Zaynah: If you’re concerned about missing out on the social side, don’t be. We may not have freshers week but who’s stopping you from creating your own fun? Go out with your friends, make new apprentice friends and go out with them too! There’s a huge apprentice community, especially in London who all want the same thing as you.
Jamilah: Don’t worry about missing out on a social life if you go into work full time. There’s plenty of opportunities to socialise with people both in and out of work - with clients, colleagues, other apprentices, and even people with similar interests online (eg. on LinkedIn). Although a social life is important, it’s also important to make the most of each opportunity you get at work.
Making decisions about your future and whether you go to uni, or take an alternative path, can be overwhelming and there are so many different things to consider. Social life is undoubtedly a big part of that and hopefully through these varied experiences you can see that if you do go down the apprenticeship route, you won’t be compromising on the fun and friendships that you’d get at uni!