I originally was very unsure of what I wanted to study and therefore decided to take a gap year. I also wasn't sure university was the right path for me and therefore did some research into apprenticeships.
I had very little work experience and before committing to an apprenticeship, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the workplace and how I enjoyed it. I therefore did some volunteering at my local Oxfam bookshop and completed a Digital Marketing traineeship (1 month course and 1 month work placement).
This traineeship introduced me to html and css coding as well as the importance of data analytics and pushed me to explore tech areas further, notably through webinars and virtual work experience programs with Springpod.
The volunteering and work placement emphasized how much I could learn and grow in the workplace and as I really enjoyed it, I decided I would apply for degree apprenticeships which combine university, theoretical studies and professional work with practical, hands-on experience. I decided to apply for tech degree apprenticeships as I really enjoyed the online courses, webinars and virtual work experience programs.
Furthermore, with a degree apprenticeship, not only would I not have a student debt, I would have a salary which is a considerable advantage when compared to university studies on their own.
Springpod provided me with the opportunity to gain a much greater understanding of the tech industry as a whole. I was able to attend webinars with very interesting speakers from a wide range of companies. These events often also shared very useful information on apprenticeship schemes companies offered and the entire application process. The wide range of events Springpod offered, from technology to marketing and journalism, allowed me to explore different paths.
Some events focused on 1 company. These were particularly useful to prepare applications for the apprenticeships they offered. They also gave me an insight into the company itself, their values, purpose and history.
This understanding was crucial when applying for apprenticeships as companies expect you to know about their products and values when applying. It is also important to know about the company to try and determine if you will fit in well there.
Participate in as many online or in person events on apprenticeships and employers as possible so that you make informed decisions
Research the different paths open to you: university, apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships
If you are unsure what you want to do, take a gap year and try to get more experience in the field you are interested in - some companies such as IBM also offer a futures year which are basically 1 year paid internships. These are great for a taste of the workplace and allow you to put some money aside too! These can also transition into apprenticeships after the internships.
Research around the company and program you are applying for: the company will ask you why you want a job at their company and why that role is right for you.
Network: do not hesitate to reach out to people who are/have done that program, they will most likely be very happy to tell you about their experience and can answer any questions you have on the role and company culture
It is not because you haven't got a lot of things on your CV that you can't give examples of skills! When you have a group project at school, it is team-working. When you are balancing school projects and revision for exams you are demonstrating time management/organisational skills. Giving examples where you haven't succeeded is also interesting if you can say what you learned: why did it go wrong and what are you doing to avoid it happening again?
We all make mistakes throughout our lives. The important part is to be able to learn from our mistakes and to constantly have that growth mindset to improve yourself. Employers will often be very impressed if you can show you are aware of your weaknesses and are working on them.
Furthermore, when you start your apprenticeship, remember the employer chose you after the whole recruitment process. You are there for a reason, you deserve to be there! You can add value to the company simply by being yourself and bringing a fresh perspective.
Starting an apprenticeship can be very daunting. Most people are very intimidated when starting an apprenticeship as it is one of their first experiences of the workplace. Keep in mind the employers want you to succeed. While they do want you to do your work, they also know that when starting out, you won't know how things work. They know you still have to be trained so don't be afraid of asking questions, be inquisitive! This will also show them you are being proactive to increase your knowledge and you are motivated to do your job well. You could also ask if there is anyone who has done the same apprenticeship as you in the company and if you could talk to them.
Some useful questions to ask include:
Starting a new job is scary and stressful so make sure you put in place some methods for you to cope with it. Whether this be through sports or through yoga and meditation, make sure you set aside time to relax and centre yourself.
Throughout the process, if you can talk to people who have done or are doing an apprenticeship at the same company as you, reach out and ask them questions about the application process, the company, the role!