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Should you choose college or an Apprenticeship?


Choosing what to do after school or college can be scary. With the UK Government confirming more people than ever before are now choosing an apprenticeship, how should you decide what to do next?

Here, previous Apprentice Rebecca shares what made her choose an Apprenticeship scheme.

Don’t just follow the crowd

When choosing, it’s important you take your time to research all of your options, rather than just follow the crowd. When Rebecca joined Nationwide as an Apprentice in 2013, she knew fast career progression was important to her:  “When I joined the Apprenticeship scheme in April 2013, I was one of the first of four Apprentices Nationwide ever took on. At the time I was the only one of my friends who chose the Apprenticeship route- the others went straight to work or University. I knew at the time I didn’t want to go back to college to study a subject for another 2 years unless I was really passionate about it.”

Keep open minded

It’s also key that you stay true to what interests you, but keep open minded. ”Although it’s not something I’d have picked during ‘careers day’ at school, I really love my job” explains Rebecca. “I’d dismissed Business Studies and Finance when I was younger as I didn’t enjoy Maths, and I’d thought I wasn’t ‘clever’ enough for a career in Finance. Now I find Financial Services really interesting, and day to day I manage the commercial lifecycle with 3rd parties Nationwide wishes to engage with.”

Consider your long term plan

But how are Apprenticeships set to change in the future? Back in August last year it was announced Apprenticeships are set to increase to over 3 million by 2020, which will mean even more Apprenticeship opportunities to choose from.
If you’re considering an Apprenticeship, it’s important you take time to look at the long term career progression within a company.

Since she initially joined as a ‘Procurement Apprentice,’ Rebecca has achieved two significant promotions in less than three years, whilst also being given the time she needed to study for additional qualifications. For Rebecca, being able to 'earn while you learn' played a part in her decision: 

“ Now I’m a Commercial Specialist, and my work is focused on ‘Risk’ within Nationwide. I’ve gained an NVQ in Business Administration, and I’m also studying for another professional qualification through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. ”

Make sure the company values match your own

Take a look around the company website as well as their social channels (including Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook) to see how the majority of existing employees feel about their colleagues and their company.

Rebecca says: “There’s real comraderie among the apprentices – we try to help and support each other. As more apprentices join it’s great to see the programme expanding and watching others do so well.”

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there

Finally, don’t be embarrassed to try something new. Once you’ve done your research and taken the time to pull together your application, consider sharing it with a family member or friend. Remember - don’t be afraid of honest feedback- learning how to react to criticism (and praise!) is a skill even the most experienced professionals have to work on.

Rebecca explained: “If you don’t try then you’ll never know. After all, through hard work and being brave enough to try, I’ve gone from an Apprentice with no knowledge or experience of commercial management to a Commercial Specialist within just 2 and a half years.”

Find out more

If you’re considering an Apprenticeship, why not take a look at our latest opportunities? We also have a handy ‘friends and family’ section if you’d like to know more.

What would you choose after school?

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