Moving on after an apprenticeship

 7 December 2017

In 2014 I joined Creative & Cultural Skills as a Level 3 Business and Administration apprentice. Now, through my career progression, I’m off to start my new role in marketing. Here’s my advice to apprentices and organisations on how to make apprenticeships work and how to finish them together successfully.

"Applying for jobs, going for interviews and starting a new role is scary for anyone, let alone someone who is brand new to it"

The journey to my apprenticeship

I left college halfway through my first year, just after turning 17. I was unhappy in the education setting and made the decision to get a full time job. I knew that I wanted to work and felt like an office job would suit me perfectly.

I signed myself up to a careers advice company where I explained to them what I wanted to do and the little work experience I had. I’d previously worked in my school office doing basic administrative tasks but that was it.

My apprenticeship also helped me figure out my career plans.  

Luck happened to be on my side as the company were hiring for Level 2 Business and Administration apprentices at one of their offices local to me. I was successful in my application and interview and got the job in 2012. I was there for just over a year, where I learned a wide range of administrative and professional skills. 

Unfortunately there wasn’t any funding to keep me on after my apprenticeship and I didn’t receive any help in finding my next job.I ended up leaving there and being unemployed for several months, spending my time working on my CV and applying for jobs. 

Then I got a job as an administrative assistant for a cleaning company, which started out fine but then went downhill rather quickly. After a few unhappy and unsettling months there, I made the bold decision to hand in my resignation.  Which now looking back is the best thing I could ever have done!

Within a month of leaving there, I had found, applied, had an interview and landed the job at Creative & Cultural Skills. It was perfect for me, as I was used to an apprenticeship already (having done my Level 2) and because I had now gained many useful skills that were needed for the role.

What was my apprenticeship like?

My apprenticeship was based in my office five days a week and I had an assessor visit me monthly for progress meetings. I would upload my work to an online portal where I could monitor my progress and check the comments my assessor was making. 

It was a great way of learning for me as I was fully immersed in the office environment.

Throughout my apprenticeship, I got to learn new administrative skills and strengthen my professional skills such as organisation, prioritising, coordinating and communicating. I also got to attend events and do things I had never done before such as networking and self-promotion.

My apprenticeship also helped me figure out my career plans. Being based within the communications team and learning how to create newsletters, social media channels, websites and content, made me realise that I loved doing these tasks and would like to pursue a marketing or communications career.

When my apprenticeship was coming to an end, I was constantly being updated by my manager about whether a position was available for me to move into. Luckily there was and I became a Communications Assistant, taking on more responsibility and more tasks.

Tips for an apprentice

I think a great first tip would be to just pay attention to your work environment and watch how others work. Listen to how people speak on the phone and look at the emails other staff members send to see how they communicate. 

It was a great way of learning for me as I was fully immersed in the office environment.

If you have never had a professional phone call before or written a formal email, ask your manager for help in doing so.

Secondly, I would always make sure you feel happy and comfortable with your work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or have someone explain something to you again if you don’t fully understand. It’s better than trying to struggle by on your own and get it wrong.

Finally, try to do, see, and learn as much as you can throughout your apprenticeship!

Helping an apprentice with their future

Nowadays there is so much emphasis on hiring an apprentice that I think many employers forget about the end process, when an apprenticeship finishes, which is just as important.

The best scenario would often be for an apprentice to progress and move up within their organisation, but understandably, this isn’t always possible.

If you can’t keep your apprentice on, be honest and up front with them. Let them know that unfortunately, there isn’t a position available to them once their apprenticeship finishes.

If you can’t keep your apprentice on, be honest and up front with them

Make sure to tell them in as much advance as possible, so that they have a few months to prepare and figure out their next move.

Applying for jobs, going for interviews and starting a new role at a new organisation is scary and overwhelming for anyone, let alone someone who is brand new to it!

Now is your opportunity to support and help them in finding a new job:

  • Offer to take a look at their CV for them and provide helpful changes to make it better.
  • Point them in the right direction in terms of the best job vacancy websites.
  • Support them filling in application forms and creating personal statements.
  • Hold mock interviews with them to prepare them for the questions they may be asked and to help them understand how to behave and answer them. 
  • You could even talk to partner or friend organisations or any others in a similar area of work to yours, to see if they had any positions available for your apprentice or if they knew of any.

Doing the above should just be seen as another part of the apprenticeship, as you are teaching them skills and giving them confidence and knowledge for their future in the world of work.

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