Words: Jack Hunter
In light of the National Apprenticeship Week (8 to 14 February 2021), I (a former apprentice) have been tasked with writing a blog, that will give you a small glimpse into my career so far and how I feel, that leaving school to become an apprentice, was probably one of the most intelligent decisions I’ve made with my life, in which there are few.
Firstly, I wanted an intelligent sounding quote that’s relevant to my message that will make me seem like an eloquent & experienced writer.
After approximately 3 minutes of searching ‘55 INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ABOUT LEARNING’. Here’s what I found:
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
I felt like Jiddu hit the nail on the head here, so this quote will hopefully help with my point that I am going to attempt to convey.
The moment I started losing the motivation to continue further education was about midway through my second term of 6th Form. The only subject I still had interest in was Art and at that point a free period meant doing next to zero revision. The passion for education had vanished and I wanted out.
In my head, the only thing I could see myself doing was something in the creative sector (I did want to be a criminal psychologist for about a month, but I secured myself a hefty ‘U’ in Psychology in my first term). I had no idea how I’d get into something like design and I had no way of sticking my foot in the door… until I noticed a few mates starting to look into apprenticeships. I scrolled down to find ‘Digital Marketing’.
After very loosely reading the job description, my naïve conclusion was that I’m going to get paid to like and retweet stuff on twitter. Maybe even fire out a few posts once or twice a day. I filled in my details and thought “Digital Marketer. Could it get any easier?”.
It was hard. I couldn’t get into it for the life of me. It involved spreadsheets, so as soon as I’d see an excel boot up, I’d mentally vacated the premises. At this point, I’d interviewed for two places, the Liverpool Biennial and Downtown in Business.
Downtown in Business took me on at 17, and this is the moment where I realised apprenticeships bring opportunity. I was managing to keep up with Digital Marketing, and the educational side provided by the City of Liverpool College definitely helped to propel me forward into sounding like I knew what I was talking about. But whilst working on Downtown’s socials, I had to keep using this software package called, Adobe… I loved it.
I got taught the basics on how to use it all by my manager and then I was off.
YouTube got hammered that year, tutorial after tutorial. Until it then came to a point where Downtown seen some prospect and signed me up full time to be their Graphic Designer. Not only that, but I also finished my apprenticeship and managed to get the Diploma in ITQ Skills. Always good to add to the CV.
I’d realised that apprenticeships don’t have to shape you for the rest of your career. It can also be used as a platform to get you to where you want to go. They not only provide you with direct development for the chosen career, but they get you into businesses and give you the opportunity to seek out other career paths that may spark your interest.
In addition, at the early stages of my apprenticeship I gained valuable experience working in an office environment; missing deadlines and seeing how that effects workflow, working amongst adults and being treated like one, and making lots and lots and LOTS of typos… but learning from them. There were other mistakes too…
Mistakes like, accidently sending a private invite to 50,000 people, missing off the headline sponsors table from an award table plan, spelling the CEO of a billion-pound property company’s name incorrectly… in 500 copies of a magazine. These self-described ‘developmental blips’, have haunted… I mean, SHAPED me into a better employee and improved my work ethic.
So much so, that when I went to apply for a new job, I got it. This has happened a few times now and the main thing that employers tell me, is that my years working in an office environment looks more lucrative compared to candidates that have come fresh out of university. File management, speaking to clients, all that stuff, are big ticks for companies.
To conclude, my total lack of university qualifications has not once affected me in the multiple job interviews, I’ve had throughout my career. In fact, I’ve been favoured. My years of first-hand experience acts as a shining beacon on my CV to employers. When applying for a job, never be completely deterred by the ‘qualification requirements.’ The experience apprenticeships give you is more than enough to go for it.
“…from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
The talented individuals I’ve worked with throughout my 8+ year career, have helped me develop further than I can ever imagine. No textbooks, no fixed curriculum, no student debt… just freedom to learn anything that interests you at your own pace.
I should clarify. To go to university is a massive achievement and for people that do so, good on you. I’ve heard from friends and colleagues that university was a great way to find independence and there are some highly ambitious careers that do require years of dedicated study. So, I applaud all of you lot that went through that to achieve your goals.
My point is, that it’s not the only route to go down. You can go further than you may think with apprenticeships. I know it surprises me still to this day, that a 17-year-old that couldn’t be bothered with A-levels, applied to be a digital marketing apprentice, then ended up moving into the job he dreamed of working in and now is pretty established in Graphic Design, but there’s plenty more to learn. Right Jiddu?
Oh! I’ve remembered a good quote (that I didn’t google), “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Do that too.