Apprenticeship wins

This story is written by Youth Ambassador, Lilley Deevey

When I was 18 I went to university and thought it was going to be the making of me, my biggest success, and it wasn’t, after a year I decided it wasn’t for me. The career path I’d chosen wasn’t what I had expected and I left uni.

Up until that point in my life I’d been told success was university and success was a ‘traditional route’ that I had followed like a sheep because it was what all of my friends did. I’d never taken the time to figure out what success was for me, all I knew was what my parents and teachers had told me throughout school that unless I went to university I was a failure. Now don’t get me wrong, university is the best time of some people’s lives and it can give you brilliant career prospects, but it’s not the only way, and it certainly isn’t for everyone!


So at 19, I failed. Looking back now that ‘failure’ was the best thing that could have happened. The next choice I made in my life has completely defined me, I started an apprenticeship.

At the age of 20 I started a Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Human Resources with AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company. On my first day I was completely overwhelmed with information, it was a whole new environment, new people, a new job, a new way of thinking and after that first day I just knew I was exactly where I wanted to be. My company supported me in everything that I did, giving me more knowledge and practical experience than I ever imagined and taught me how to not just survive in a work environment but how to excel.

Over the two years of my apprenticeship I was given incredible opportunities to grow, I led projects, worked with senior leaders in the business, spoke at the houses of parliament, and was given the job of co-ordinating the apprenticeship programme itself. After my apprenticeship I was offered a position at my current employer Crown Worldwide with the task of creating an apprenticeship programme from scratch for them. On a daily basis I am using my experience as an apprentice to give others the incredible opportunities I have had.

People choose apprenticeships for many different reasons, some learn better in a practical way and find being able to apply their knowledge helps them grow, others want to study a qualification without getting into debt, and some are just eager to get into a business as soon as possible. An apprenticeship gave me an incredible kick start in my career and it can work for you too!

Handy hints & tips

Whether it’s a level 3 (A-level Equivalent) or degree apprenticeship (Full BA hons) here’s some top tips to get you started in your apprenticeship journey!

  1. Stress? What stress?

It’s a really common misconception that apprenticeships are an easier option, apprenticeships are hard! Unlike a typical university route you will have a full time job four days per week with deadlines and targets to juggle alongside your uni/college work. Make sure you are prepared for the amount of time you will need to dedicate to both your college work but also your job!

  1. When I’m a grown up I want to be a…?

It’s amazing if you find your dream career early and have something to work towards but if not don’t worry! Working towards an end goal is great but your perfect job might be one you’ve never heard of before like a bid writer, credit controller or market insights manager.

  1. #lusciousluke

Some companies will look at your social media profiles during the application process. (Even if it’s set to private!) Your social media profile is your personal brand, moaning about your previous manager or posting pictures of you drunk doesn’t create a good image to your future employer. Also make sure you have a professional email address!

  1. I wash cows in buttermilk…

Similarly to a university application employers are looking for more than just good grades from their apprentices. Volunteering, D of E and any clubs or associations you have been involved with will make your application stand out. Even if it’s unrelated to your future career, you will be building team working and other critical skills that employers will be looking for! One of my favourite CV’s was a guy who did cattle shows with his dad as it made him stand out! Washing cows in buttermilk is awesome!

  1. A Cinderella story

An apprenticeship is often your first experience of a business environment so you need to make sure that the company you choose is one you are passionate about. Make sure you look in detail into how the company operates, is it an ethical company, do its values resonate with your own personal values? When you go for your interview ask loads of questions and try to imagine yourself working there. Finding the right company will fit like a glass slipper!

And finally, take every opportunity that is presented to you, you never know who you might meet or where it might lead in the future!

Next Steps:

  • If you are still considering your careers options you can explore all your options in our careers hub
  • Not sure which route is best for you? Explore our help zone
  • Want to become an ambassador like Lilley? Find out more here

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