"An apprenticeship worked for me, and it could for you too"
Throughout school, I was always unsure of what career path I wanted to follow. After studying Business at GCSE level, I was sure that something within the business world, most likely marketing, was something that I wanted to pursue. During A-Levels, my school, who focused on academia, heavily encouraged UCAS applications and I applied for the traditional university route. Even though I had places at universities, I wanted something more as I had worked part-time since the age of fifteen and enjoyed the prospect of earning money; but, I valued the importance of a degree too. Unfortunately, apprenticeships were sold to me as being purely vocational such as hairdressing, plumbing or construction. I therefore looked for alternatives and realised that the degree apprenticeship route was for me.
In school and at university, there is always someone rambling on about your future; and whilst it is something that some may choose to overlook, careers advisors and teachers are there for a reason. So listen to them! You don’t have to know what you want to be, nor the industry you aspire to work in; all you need to know is what you like and what you don’t, and someone can help you to plan your options. Why should you give your career a head start? British workers will spend an average of 3,515 full days at work over the course of their lifetime, working for up to a total of 1,795 hours a year, and 84,365 hours over a lifetime (AccountacyAge.com). Therefore, we are going to spend the majority of our lives working; so it makes sense that we give it some planning and thought! With almost 70 million people living in the UK, this also means that getting the career of your dreams is not an easy task. Considering your career earlier will help you to get a head start on the competition and take you to where you want to be sooner. Some other reasons for getting a head start are:
Grow your network: knowing the industry or job role you aim to work in will aid decisions about networking events, conferences, seminars or people to connect with on LinkedIn. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and whilst it’s not true for every job role in every industry, it will certainly help to build a professional network in your chosen field. I go to as many networking events as possible to build my contacts and make connections.
Become more competitive for university applications: if you have had part-time roles or internships prior to applying for university, you will have elements of your application that other candidates might not, making you a more attractive applicant and increasing your chances of getting a place, or in some cases, a scholarship. For example, I had done some waitressing work previously, demonstrating both communication and teamwork.
Learn something: even if you just do some research or apply for internships and you are unsuccessful, you can learn so much from the process itself that will put you in good stead for your future ambitions. I applied for more than one degree apprenticeship and was unsuccessful the first time round; I learned from the experience and applied this to my successful application.
So, how can you do it? There are a few methods that I would recommend to help you get experience and progress towards your goals quickly:
A degree apprenticeship
Degree apprenticeships are a new route into higher education, combining university study with practical skills gained in the workplace and the security of a regular salary. This alternative pathway gives degree apprentices the work experience that employers desire, providing more employment options post-graduation
.“Since I started my degree apprenticeship I have not looked back. I wanted to study Business Management, a degree that a lot of young graduates obtain in the UK, and therefore needed to differentiate myself from the competition. The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) programme at Pearson College London has been the perfect way for me to combine work and study, applying theories to the workplace and vice-versa.”
(Niamh Mulhall, Degree Apprentice at Pearson College London)
Degree apprenticeships can be studied in a variety of different subjects, not just Business, and therefore are worth considering to accelerate your career.
Alongside a traditional degree, the opportunity to complete an internship (or placement year) is another way to gain experience in the subject that you are looking to transform into a career. Taking the time to find and apply for a quality internship can not only give you the work experience to progress your skills and knowledge, but can sometimes guarantee you a job upon graduation - if the company likes you, of course! It’s also a trial run of your chosen career; you may love studying something but hate actually doing it, so it’s a good way to find out what you do and don’t enjoy! Also, in most cases, you get paid!
I know I mentioned this earlier, but the importance of networking is huge in today’s modern business world. You can use connections through friends or family and extended family to get opportunities for experience or tips for application processes to internships or apprenticeships. Likewise, LinkedIn is a growing platform, with access to thousands of professionals within a few clicks. Searching for potential job roles and people that fulfil them currently could be the basis for connections that you will require later in your career journey. You could also attend networking masterclasses and events to further those connections, make new connections, and work on those all important networking skills.
In summary, the main way to accelerate your career is through forward thinking and gaining as much experience as possible. The method you use, is up to you!
About the author
Katie Fiddaman is a Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice studying and working at Pearson College London as Communications, PR and Content Assistant. She is currently studying towards my BA (Hons) Business Management degree, which will take three years to complete.