How to kickstart your career through an apprenticeship
- 7 mins read
Published on Wednesday 6th March 2019
In my last Future Talent post, I discussed my experience as an apprentice so far, my job role and the importance of young people getting into digital careers- read here if you haven’t already. In this post, I will be expanding on the recruitment process, exploring how to be successful in securing an apprenticeship and asking for advice from the Graphite team on what they were looking for in a candidate.
The growth of apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are growing at an incredible rate as companies are beginning to realise their true value, and young people are increasingly becoming aware that there are other options available other than university which may be more suited for them.
If you want to combine education and getting a well-respected degree or qualification with invaluable real-world experience which is highly respected by employers then an apprenticeship could be for you. Essentially, you will be paid to learn, up-level your CV and gather years of on-the-job experience while avoiding the ever-growing debt of university. If you’re hardworking and determined nothing can stop you, you will only flourish and grow as an apprentice.
Take the time to really think about what career route you think you’d like to go down. You may have some idea from your work experience or interests, or you may have no idea at all. There are over 1,500 job roles available to an apprentice across a wide range of industries (UCAS 2018), so really take your time to decide what you want to do- the world is at your feet.
As a young person, apprenticeship interviews can seem difficult. You may not have much industry experience or knowledge to draw on so this makes your personality and talents a high focus for apprentice employers. However, as a positive, this focus allows you to show the interviewers how committed to learning and growing within the company you are - this is a key part of an apprenticeship so you want to make sure that you get this across.
After my interview at Graphite, I really thought that I would be receiving that dreaded “sorry we’ve decided to go with someone else” phone call. I was the youngest of all the candidates by over 5 years and was the only candidate that hadn’t been to university, so really felt that I would have no chance against them. However, against the odds, Graphite decided to hire me over the other candidates- this really shows how experience and education alone doesn’t secure you a job, a good interview that shows off your personality and talents is also a huge deciding factor. That’s why it is extremely important that you come across well in your interview and to never doubt yourself- just go for it.
I asked Graphite’s Client Service Director, Senior Account Manager and Senior Project Manager (Jon, Jo & James) if they could describe what they were looking for in an apprentice and what stands out when interviewing for an apprentice.
“When looking for someone to join us as an apprentice we were keen to find someone who was passionate about the world of digital and was and open to the experience of learning more while being prepared to get involved in all aspects of agency life.”
“We looked at how candidates presented themselves in the workshop and interviews we invited them to, and the tasks we presented them with. We weren't looking for a fully polished individual, but rather someone who we felt could be a part of the team and grow with us.”
“We also wanted to gauge the level of exposure the candidates had to digital products and environments, especially agencies through programmes like work experience and internships. We are well aware of how difficult it can be to get such opportunities so would never exclude candidates who hadn't been able to find them, these are just part of the picture we would try and create to help us understand more about any potential apprentice.”
Here are my top tips and advice for making sure you ace your interview and secure that apprenticeship:
Make sure you know the skills required for the role and be prepared to showcase them or prove your abilities.
Shortly after I found Graphite’s job advert for a Client Services/Marketing Apprentice, I was informed that there were a large number of other applicants and invited to a session at the office. This session was designed to allow us, applicants, to learn more about the agency and so that Graphite could assess our skills and knowledge of the role we’re applying for. We completed a variety of tasks such as sorting through and prioritising potential client issues, arguing for and against certain topics and calculating a quote for a piece of client work.
Interviews are not as scary as they seem! Don’t over think them, the interview is about you so it’s more than likely you’ll know all the answers to questions.
After the initial assessment session, I was invited back to the office for an official interview with three Graphite team members. Interviews can seem incredibly intimidating and scary, especially if you don’t have much interview experience. However, this generally isn’t the case at all- the interviewers just want to get to know you! Just prepare and focus on expressing why you would suit the role and what you could bring to it.
Be confident, even if you don’t feel it.
In an interview, you want to come across as confident as possible in your abilities and that you’re fit for the role. It’s easier said than done but even if you feel anxious in your interview just focus on pushing yourself through. Think of it like taking on an acting role, presenting the most confident and best version of yourself. This technique will make sure you stand out against the other nervous interviewees and that your interview is memorable for all the right reasons. For that short amount of time, just throw yourself into it.
Back up your reasons why you’re the best candidate for the job with examples.
Don’t just say it, prove it! Reflect on your life experiences and any job experience you may have had, how you managed/dealt with certain situations and how these showcase your skills and abilities. This will back up your statements and confirm why the company should choose you over other candidates.
I am really passionate about getting other young adults to see the benefits of an apprenticeship and being able to learn on the job. I feel that apprenticeships really compliment the learning style of many individuals who prefer practical learning and putting things into practice in the real world. For me, this helps cement the knowledge by being able to apply and put it into action in real situations.