“Well, Amie, you’re only 19. Not everyone is cut out for university,” I was told after I dropped out of my degree for a second time in less than two years.
I had fallen wholly out of love with many aspects of the new student life I’d been living for the past year and a half. Fresh out of Year 13, I had felt rushed to make the “£9,000 a year” decision and dedicated myself to studying a BA in animation due to my artistic skill and love for film. After a year, I was disappointed with myself and the course, and decided to transfer to a BA in film studies. That lasted for a whole semester before I dropped out of that, too.
During the latter half of my first year, I crashed. Once I had fallen out with the friends I had made, as teenagers often do, I found myself feeling extremely lost and isolated in my overpriced digs. I was clinically depressed, taking Prozac daily, but still crying on the phone to my poor mother every night.
I would think to myself, wiping away my tears of frustration and perceived failure, “I am clever, my A*AB A-level grades prove it.” Sadly, at the time I failed to realise that intelligence had nothing to do with the completion of my degree, a time when I was so skint I couldn’t afford my Tesco shop and so lonely that even the pills weren’t helping.
At Christmas time in 2017, I finally moved back home to Bromley in south-east London to be with my family and “get a real job”. The job hunt was a struggle, and the only work that I could find was a full-time position in a waffle shop.
My school had always presented apprenticeships as the “vocational” option; many stories I’d heard were that apprentices worked for £3 an hour, either in a nursery or a construction site. So my assumptions were that apprenticeships were rare, aimed at 16-year-olds who avoided sixth form, and wouldn’t land me my creative dream career.
As I did my time in the waffle shop, I was continually seeking a career as a way out of my dead-end job and stumbled upon WhiteHat’s website while searching for jobs online. Around this time, I met my current boyfriend who is a level 4 network engineering apprentice working in IT. He couldn’t recommend it highly enough. “You earn and learn!” he’d explain. I had the support of my family and nothing to lose, so I applied and was successful.
Throughout all of this, my quality of life as an apprentice greatly increased and my mother didn’t worry about my wellbeing anymore. I got through the application process for WhiteHat with no hitches and found myself being drawn to digital marketing. It’s both creative and analytical, which I found difficult to balance with my choice of course at university. Working, although it was in a waffle shop, was invaluable to growing as a person and finding the courage within myself to take control of my life again.
I have now been a level 3 digital marketing apprentice for six months at consultancy firm Action Sustainability in Angel, Islington. The best thing about my job is that I know I’m going somewhere. Every day I learn new things and am gaining real-life experience in the workplace, which you cannot get from reading a textbook or writing a dissertation, as far as I’m concerned.
In terms of the day-to-day, you can expect an apprenticeship to be varied. Overall, I support the marketing team on campaigns through social media and email. I have responsibilities involving administration, too, such as handling accounts and dealing with customer queries. As a young professional, I have found that my company is keen to give me work of personal interest in the direction of my career. After recognising a creative skills gap in my company that I could fill, I have also made four animated videos, graphic design work and illustrations for online courses.
There is also a great sense of comfort from already being in the workplace; I am proving myself every day to my employer and am laying the groundwork for a successful career. At university, I feel there is always the impending doom of student debt (probably involving selling a kidney to pay for your ‘mad one’ at freshers), since you’re not guaranteed employment upon finishing your degree.
So apprenticeships are, in my opinion, living proof that, indeed, the advice I was given is true: university shouldn’t be considered a one-size-fits-all solution to kickstarting your career. Especially when you are just leaving school and are unsure of your next steps, apprenticeships are a wonderful, financially risk-free way to grasp the opportunities designed to train and assist young people breaking into a career.
Originally published on 21st May 2019 by TES
Organisations deliver most of what they do through their supply chains. Shaun McCarthy OBE asks how do we procure for the greater good and really embed social value?Read Article