If someone would have told me that I was going to be in an apprenticeship by the time I was 17 I would have laughed! I always thought (along with everyone in school) that apprenticeships are for those who don’t do as well in their GCSEs and who will struggle in college. I always thought you had to go to college, go to university and get a degree to be even taken seriously in the life of employment, let alone to be even successful. Little did I know that was not the case.

I left school with all 11 GCSES at A*- C’s. I was very pleased with this as I studied so hard! But what happens next? You leave school then what? How on earth at 16 years old are we meant to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives?  So many courses, so many A levels, so much choice yet we are pressured to choose them in such a short space of time… we are 16 years old! We haven’t experienced life, we haven’t experimented with different type of jobs. How are we meant to know what we like? What we dislike? What we want in life in general? I don’t think people understand the ridiculous amount of pressure on young people, we are pressured to feel that we have to look a certain way (modern society with social media does not help with this), we are pressured in a way that we can’t make mistakes and we have to make choices and stick with them for the rest of our lives.

Despite this, I followed the crowd, like a sheep, and I went to a local college to study a business management diploma. Half way through the year I thought to myself, this isn’t right… this is pointless… Why am I sat in college hardly learning with a class of students who don’t even want to be here? (Let alone the fact it was cliquey and intimidating, worse than school!) When I could be out learning on the job, whilst earning a wage.

I stuck college out for the remainder of that year and gained two distinction stars. (Equivalent to A*s) in a Level 3 Diploma in Business Management. What did I gain from that? NOTHING! I had just wasted a whole academic year on nothing, to think that I could have spent that on developing life skills in a work environment. It is very annoying especially as time is so precious, it shouldn’t be wasted. Despite this I am firm believer of everything happens for a reason and this is exactly what happened here. If I hadn’t been to college I wouldn’t have known any different. By going to college for that year made me realise that it wasn’t for me and it was time for something to change!

So I left college with my diploma at 16 (baby of the year group) having no clue what I was going to do. Especially as the law states you must stay in education until you’re 18. My mum suggested an apprenticeship, but the thought of embarrassment entered my head again as it did in school. However, until I did more research into them and found that what I had heard in school about apprenticeships wasn’t true at all. In fact, people who complete apprenticeships end up more likely to be employed over than someone who has a degree! Apprenticeships give young people paid work experience which is more valuable to most employers than a degree with no work experience So, the look for an apprenticeship began in earnest.

The interview stage of applying for a job was scarier than expected, because who knows what they are going to ask, you can only prepare yourselves to a certain extent… the more interviews I went for the less scary they became

I got offered a job at Dow Schofield Watts Business Planning working as an apprentice accountant, never in my life would I have believed that I would be training to be an accountant, never mind the fact I was in an apprenticeship. In school maths wasn’t my strong subject, nevertheless I still passed and now feel I am developing day by day.

 Life as an apprentice is so much tougher than everyone thinks, (like myself at first). Its working out the equal balance of doing a full day’s work to then go home and study for your qualification. It is demanding work; however, you can’t beat being in the work environment, being paid but also gaining well recognised qualifications.

As part of my apprenticeship I go to college once a fortnight to study and sit exams for my AAT. My initial thought was oh no… college again… but I was so wrong! There are eight people in my class, it so much better, as there are less students you get more of a 1:1 with the tutor which means you get a better understanding and learn more. In addition to this the people are so much nicer, there’s no cliquey-ness, no intimidation, and the students are a lot more mature. I attribute this down to them all being in apprenticeships as well. Working changes you as a person, it makes you grow up. I couldn’t honestly recommend being in apprenticeship more. By far the best thing I have ever done!