Whether you’re leaving Sixth Form or College in the next few weeks, if you’re just about to step out of mainstream education then you’re probably spending a lot of time thinking about what the next chapter of your life is going to hold.
I imagine there’ll be a lot of 17 and 18 year olds out there right now wondering whether university is right for them or people leaving college and not knowing how to get a job but have you actually considered an apprenticeship?
I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want to be an apprentice. The job title sounds a bit rubbish and the pay is probably even worse but I can tell you first hand, that isn’t always the case.
That might be the reality of being an apprentice at some companies but lets not accuse all employers of being the same because in my experience, doing an apprenticeship was the most intelligent decision I made throughout my education and has pathed the way for me to achieve a career I never thought would be possible.
I didn’t have any A levels when I left college, I had my GCSEs and a couple of qualifications in the beauty industry from my local college, so I certainly didn’t qualify for a degree level apprenticeship which is where I assumed the decent money and responsible roles were.
I was bored of my beauty qualification and wanted to get back into something more office based. Marketing had always appealed to me, mainly because I liked playing on social media and I naively assumed that is what digital marketing entailed, so one night I decided to randomly apply for a digital marketing executive apprenticeship I had seen advertised at a local agency.
The only credentials I had that made me relevant for the role was an A* in GCSE English and the ability to use a computer and a smartphone but I put my best application form in and hoped for the best.
I got an interview and somehow managed to wing getting the job. I was terrified when it dawned on me that I knew NOTHING about the role I had applied for but then I remember, I was just an apprentice! I probably wouldn’t be doing any proper marketing work for months and would probably spend my days brewing up and filing things away – that’s what apprentices do right?
Oh how wrong was I! This particular apprenticeship was relatively well paid and I worked for every penny of it from the minute I got the role! The company I went to work for was small and as soon as I started I played an integral role in getting things done, so I was put to work on real client tasks from day 1.
I have worked for the same company for nearly two and a half years now, completed by Level 3 Diploma Digital Marketing, have had two pay rises and a promotion to Content and Social Strategist – all through an apprenticeship that was better paid and harder work than I could’ve ever imagined when I first thought about the stereo typical apprenticeship.
The whole point of an apprenticeship is to learn on the job. The majority of employers aren’t looking for a slave or cheap labour when they advertise for an apprentice, they’re looking for someone who is keen to learn the industry and has the ability to do so. They’re genuinely looking for someone to become a part of their business and continue through the ranks as time goes on.
In my experience, apprentices are still an essential and valued member of staff and your role is so much more than just observing. You get hands on experience in an industry you’re passionate to explore further and an apprenticeship is the perfect way to get your foot in the door of a business that could help you path the way for your future career.
University is right for some people but it wasn’t for me and it won’t be for a lot of other people but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on further education or entering industries that you believe favour those with degrees.
I think a lot of people are put off apprenticeships due to the old-fashioned stigma around them, so hopefully hearing a first hand account of how an apprenticeship can actually be life changing will alter your views on this option and maybe even encourage you to try one for yourself!
I wouldn’t have the life and career I do at 19 if it wasn’t for taking the plunge and applying to be an apprentice, so if you want to carry on learning while earning too, an apprenticeship could definitely be for you!