In 2012, university tuition fees rocketed to an all-time high. Students were looking at course fees of up to £9,000 per year, which left me questioning whether uni was the right choice for me. I had little to no experience in a lot of the courses and wasn’t ready to commit myself to one subject and all the debt that comes with it. So, I began looking at apprenticeships.
I applied for a lot of different positions and attended open days with training providers. It’s important you do your research and weigh up several companies before applying or accepting an apprenticeship. This is your opportunity to assess them as much as they would be assessing you. You want to work for a company that cares about your growth and development – not just someone looking for cheap admin!
I was lucky enough to get a position within Birmingham-based branding agency ORB, where I began my Office Administration Apprenticeship. During this time I worked closely with a Line Manager and the rest of the team to develop applicable skills and industry knowledge. I also had fortnightly catch-ups with my tutor who came to the workplace. This time with my tutor and most of my study time was accounted for within ORB’s working hours, which meant I was earning whilst learning too!
Within 12 months, I had completed my apprenticeship. That was over 5 years ago and I am still at ORB having worked my way up to Studio Manager. I am responsible for overseeing projects as they come through the agency and holding our Creative Team accountable to deadlines and ensuring profitability. I also work closely with our Sales Team and Brand Managers to forecast upcoming work and manage capacity, as well as regularly reporting directly into the Senior Leadership Team.
I believe that through my apprenticeship I was able to gain vital transferable skills and, by learning on the job, I gained great real-life experience that has allowed me to accelerate my career.
Along the way I have also made some great friends, attended many social events and networked across the city, so I never felt like I missed out on the partying side of uni. You can work hard and play hard!
And most importantly to me, I’ve also benefited from being debt-free and having paid annual leave each year. I’ve got a head start in my pension pot with my employer’s and my own early contributions, something I wouldn’t have even considered before looking at apprenticeships.
You can get all levels of apprenticeships, even degree level, so you can come away with a qualification, experience, and earning. I’d definitely recommend apprenticeships as a great option to those looking for alternatives to the traditional University route.