As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we have taken a moment to talk to Business West colleagues about their experiences starting their careers as an apprentice.
We chatted to Emma Carter, our Membership Director at Business West, who started her own inspirational career as a young apprentice. Emma covers her perspective, what she learnt during her time as an apprentice and offers advice to those apprentices starting or developing their careers today, and those considering taking up an apprenticeship as their chosen route to a successful career.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
Honestly? There wasn't much else in terms of choice for a girl growing up in a family on the breadline, in the 'rough' estates of Slough. My career discussions didn't include options for 6th Form or College, and only the grammar school kids in the area went to university!
I chose an apprenticeship as I didn't want to work in the local Mars factory, and I wanted to do something that gave me an 'all-round' experience.
What was your experience?
I loved my apprenticeship experience. Apart from earning an income (I started on £75 per week and thought I was loaded!), I worked in a small company and therefore had the opportunity to see the different sides of a business, rather than working within just one department in a larger corporation.
I learned so much by listening, observing, and jumping at the chance to get involved in things I knew nothing about or hadn't done before.
I had a great employer who genuinely wanted me to succeed and was willing to give me learning opportunities, time, and the ability to make mistakes whilst encouraging me to find my voice.
What skills did the apprenticeship give you for your working life?
That it's okay to ask questions and to make mistakes - it's what you do with the information that counts. The importance of continually learning, or being curious, about everything. Resilience, alongside humility to hear constructive feedback. Plus, of course, navigating colleague relationships.
The biggest impact though, which I continue to develop to this day, is a willingness to 'give it a try'. There have been so many projects, activities, and opportunities in my working life, which have only come about because I was willing to put my hand up, give it a go and get stuck in (all those cliches!) It truly gave me the foundation for my career to grow.
What’s your advice for future apprentices?
Willingness in an apprenticeship is essential. A willingness to do something you haven't done before, to take on new tasks, to try new things, to listen and adapt to the good and the ‘bad’ feedback you receive.
Most importantly, to track your experiences as evidence for your qualification as you progress through your apprenticeship. There is nothing worse than trying to remember at the end of a year what you've done - and if you wait, you won't capture the detail needed to demonstrate just how much you have done, learnt, and grown.