Nebula speaks out about her journey from school to an apprenticeship and explains what it is like.
As my secondary education drew to a close I was presented with two options to continue life post-school: university or failure. Neither of these appealed to me. Yet at no point did any of my educators even utter the word apprenticeship. Being paid to work for a great business, learn the ins and outs of an industry and to gain tangible experience in an exciting job role without any specifically relevant qualifications, experience or contacts is objectively a wonderful opportunity. And yet I didn’t know it existed. But when I left school in a moderate tailspin not knowing what to do next, I took the only natural next step. I hit up google and she came through for me.
I consider myself hugely fortunate in that I have been accepted onto two apprenticeship programmes. My first was a retail management apprenticeship with John Lewis. It was my first full time job and balancing my workload with the educational elements of the programme initially was a struggle. The best and worst part about being an apprentice is that you’re not just learning, you’re really doing the job. My job was to assist in managing a shop floor and having 5 to 15 members of staff asking about their tea breaks while I was hiding in the office trying to wrap my head around a coursework module. It was definitely a challenge. But it’s not an impossible feat. As clichéd as it might sound, communication really is key. When a team takes on an apprentice it’s because they genuinely want to help them learn and as soon as I let my colleagues know what my obligations were outside of my day to day role they were accommodating and supportive. It’s important to know what your colleagues need from you but it’s just as essential to communicate your needs to them.
The second apprenticeship I completed was a buying and merchandising programme at ASOS where I am currently employed. This programme was amazing as it included a part-time college course at The Fashion Retail Academy where I learned about the fashion industry beyond my immediate role. I think that’s what can be so beneficial about apprenticeships. They not only train you in a particular job role, but expose you to an entire industry and can help you find a career path that’s right for you. I wanted to work in fashion but I hadn’t a clue what position I’d be suited to. I’m currently working as a buying assistant, and I hope to move into content creation. I didn’t know anything about either of those roles until I started the programme at ASOS and was given in depth training as well as many networking opportunities.
Being able to earn a decent wage for getting a qualification is incredible. I think I’m just as well off as my peers who went to university as I now have three years of experience in my chosen field under my belt, two retail qualifications, and no student loans to pay off. I try to hide it but I’m a little smug about it if I’m honest. But more than that, I feel inspired and motivated. I’m proud of myself for all I’ve been able to achieve and I feel I have direction which I didn’t have before I started the first apprenticeship.
I recommend apprenticeships to anyone who asks, and even those that don’t. It has been a game-changer for me and has given me both measurable skills as well as a huge confidence boost in my abilities. Completing these programmes made me excited to begin my career and gave me a huge leg up to do so. I always thought I wouldn’t be passionate about work. But now I have something to work towards and the experience and skills to do so, I can’t wait!