You’re leaving school or college and you’re not sure of your next move. I’ve been there. The difficulty for me was a lack of direction, coupled with uncertainty about life in University. Consequently, I wandered aimlessly through months in a job I simply didn’t want to do. Finally, I found the answer and took on an apprenticeship.
Here’s a little story about my search for a career I genuinely love and how you can too.
The Road to an Apprenticeship
Here’s some background information for you. After leaving school and college I ended up working full time in a fast food restaurant. I enjoyed the company of my colleagues and for the most part, I didn’t mind the work.
What really bugged me was that I didn’t have to use my brain. At all. I’m creative by nature, I draw, write and photograph because I get such a sense of accomplishment from it. Working in repetitive environments provides zero stimulation.
I’d studied the sciences and maths at college, but I wasn’t putting any of that or my wealth of extra-curricular reading to good use. Coming to the realisation I needed to do more I began studying with the Open University. Things were difficult because the courses are expensive and I was effectively working full time and studying as well. The wages went into paying for my course.
My Fiancé (Now married for over eight years at time of writing, how time flies!) supplemented that income to cover living costs. I’d been studying for some time when I stumbled across an apprenticeship scheme with a large technology company, an advert in the local paper if I recall correctly.
With the potential to earn as I learned, I thought about applying. Finally, after much discussion and soul searching I filled out an application. Consisting at the time of the usual CV style questions and a maths and English test, it was straightforward to complete.
I cannot emphasise enough, this is the best move I ever made. I only wish I’d discovered the scheme earlier!
The Apprenticeship Interview Process
An email arrived a few months later inviting me to a full day of activities. The assessment consisted of practical tests, team based exercises and a face to face interview if you passed those tests. It was a fun if challenging day, where I met many technical coaches and managers I would later work with.
I waited three painful months after the interview in April (Apprentices are usually hired to begin around September, coinciding with the academic year) for my answer and invitation to join the company. I remember being unable to contain the excitement, handed my notice in immediately and never looked back!
Why Choose an Apprenticeship
I’m not suggesting that this path is right for everyone. Due to my interest in tech, IT and science the choice was great for me. Furthermore, companies across the UK seem to be coming to a slow realisation that the very best recruits come from apprenticeships.
Why? Because they can train them with all the skills that they need while mapping those skills against a nationally recognised college or university qualification. Hence courses are available in a wide and varied variety of subjects and industries.
Benefits for business then are clear, but what about you? The minimum wage for an apprentice is rising to £3.50 per hour in April 2017. Many businesses pay significantly more, particularly tech companies which means you really can earn a good wage while getting valuable industry experience and qualifications.
You’ll also be within a support network designed to get the very best from you, with experienced professionals available whenever you need them. Finally, you can expect any college and university fees to be paid by your employer leaving you educated and debt free!
Increasingly, university graduates are leaving their courses unprepared for the demands of real working lives. Companies are seeing this and apprenticeship schemes are on the rise!
Where do I start?
Get online and look at your options. Apprenticeships are categorised into levels , just like other qualifications so that will have a bearing on where your studies begin. Fancy a specific career path? Google it! All sorts of companies run schemes at all sorts of levels. Engineering, IT, Science, Beauty, Legal, Business, Customer Service – All you need to do it have the courage to fill in that application.
Fujitsu, Accenture, IBM, BT, British Gas, Virgin Media, The ITP and McDonalds are just a small number of companies that run apprenticeships. They cover a variety of subjects at different academic levels and are a good place to start your search. You can also look for resources from the UK government, who have a library of information or talk to your school and college careers advisors.
If you’d like to talk to me directly to get more insight into my experiences, you can contact me or ask in the comments.
Happy apprenticeship hunting!