When I got to the end of my time at school, after a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do an apprenticeship. I did a lot of research and decided I wanted to study business administration. Doing an apprenticeship appealed to me as I will gain a university-like qualification without falling into any debt. The idea of debt seemed quite daunting to me and put me off the university route. In addition, you gain a lot of hands-on work experience while learning, which most employers look for on top of the qualification you receive. So for me it was a clear choice.
When I was doing my research around business administration, I realised that I could gain a lot of new knowledge as well as build on skills I have already acquired that are necessary for going on to the chartered manager degree apprenticeship. However, even with that in mind, business administration opens doors to many jobs, so it’s not tying me down to one particular career path. I think that’s a great bonus.
On a day-to-day basis, my position as an apprentice with NFER allows me to be involved with the various departments across the Foundation so I have an opportunity to learn a lot about what goes on in each team. So far, I have worked in the Marketing and Communications team, the Research and Operations team and I’m now working with the Finance team, learning about our finance processes.
Additionally, 20 per cent of my apprenticeship time is dedicated to coursework that is all done on an online QA programme. There are regular deadlines to meet and my QA tutor meets me here at NFER around every four weeks to ensure I’m on the right track and that I’m meeting all the requirements.
Having been an apprentice for almost five months now and working within different departments, I have gained quite a few skills. From learning how an event is planned and organised to carrying out financial procedures including processing invoices, it’s been exciting learning new skills. I’ve still got many other things to learn.
Watching experienced employees carry out daily tasks has allowed me to improve how I perform at work. A key aspect is learning different communication skills, especially when to pick up the phone and have a conversation or to send an email. Having worked in three departments I am comfortable talking to people in different roles and have built positive relationships with many colleagues.
One of the things I like most about my job here at NFER is that it’s very flexible, allowing me to work in different departments and therefore expanding and developing my work experiences. This keeps me both interested and motivated to keep learning and progressing as a young apprentice. It also allows me to try out different work routes giving me a good insight into other career opportunities I may not have known or thought about. I feel like I now have a very good insight into what I want and don’t want to do in the future.
If there’s one piece of advice I would give to new starters, it’s that it’s a good idea to save all the work you do, whether it’s done on your computer or on paper. This is important as it’s all evidence you can use later in your coursework. The more evidence you have, the more you can write about. This makes it easier to create links between different tasks and, overall, provides you with a better opportunity to gain a higher mark in your apprenticeship course.
So far I’m loving my current apprenticeship role, so I hope to continue down this route and complete a degree apprenticeship as a chartered manager. From there, I would like to try and get into a management role for a well-recognised company.
If the degree apprenticeship role isn’t available then I’ll most likely still go into a Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager apprenticeship which will still offer me many career opportunities in the same field of work I would like to go into.
I applied to become an apprentice at NFER because I had heard great things about it from the people close to me. Having had family work with the organisation before, I was made aware of what a friendly environment it was to work in, and that made me want to apply. NFER also offers great potential to learn outside of the apprenticeship modules.
Day to day I do a lot of admin work; Disclosure and Barring Service checks, sickness absences, filing, new starter and leaver checklists, drawing up contracts and communicating with other departments. I also assist other members of the HR team with any extra work to help me gain more experience and knowledge about my department.
Mostly I like how friendly and approachable everyone who works here is. NFER staff make you feel very welcome as a new starter and throughout, which is really helpful when starting out as an apprentice in a new organisation. It makes learning and gaining experience that much easier as a transition into something new. I also like how there is always something to do, you never get bored; you always have something different to deal with and gain experience from, which is what an apprenticeship is all about. It’s great being able to gain experience and a qualification while experiencing working for a real organisation.
If I were to give any tips or advice to any new starters it would be to take advantage of the eLearning provided by NFER. It is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and learn more about different topics while working here, and it’s a good idea to get as much of that as possible. Not all organisations/companies provide staff with this type of learning opportunity, so get as much experience and knowledge from your time here as you can.
I plan to travel around Australia and Fiji after my apprenticeship has finished, continue onto a degree level apprenticeship when I return and then, eventually, I hope to become a full-time member of a Human Resources team.
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