Back in 2020, we helped Novuna hire apprentices with Gamechangers. This programme saw more than 270 students apply, before 55 took part in one-to-one mentoring with Novuna colleagues. The programme was awarded Best Execution of a Partnership at the Corporate Engagement Awards 2021.
Jess, who was one of the 11 apprentices hired, reflects on her time at Novuna and how Visionpath helped her begin to forge a successful career path – from how and why she decided to do an apprenticeship (rather than going to university); to her journey into a role that genuinely excites her; and her best advice for other school-leavers.
"Apprenticeships offer the chance to gain practical experience and skills in a real work environment, while also receiving a wage"
Jess, what are you up to these days?
I’ve worked for Novuna Vehicle Solutions for the past three years. Initially, I came in as a Business Admin apprentice working in customer services. I then moved to our Tactical Deals team, where I finished my apprenticeship. Since finishing my apprenticeship 18 months ago I’ve transitioned to marketing. Alongside my job, I’m also pursuing my Level 4 Chartered Marketing qualification, further enhancing my knowledge and expertise in this field.
What made you want to do an apprenticeship?
Initially I was unsure about whether I wanted to follow a traditional university path or opt for an apprenticeship. To keep my options open, I applied for a mixture of both. However, during lockdown, I had the opportunity to reflect on my future career path and what I valued. It became clear that, at least at the time, I wanted to pursue an apprenticeship.
"The idea of earning while learning appealed to me."
The idea of earning while learning appealed to me. Apprenticeships offer the chance to gain practical experience and skills in a real work environment, while also receiving a wage – which allowed me to start saving up to explore different parts of the world!
Secondly, the structure of apprenticeships – which combines theoretical knowledge with practical application in the workplace – also appealed to me. This balanced approach meant I could immediately apply what I learned to my role, making the learning process more meaningful and relevant.
"The ability to forge meaningful professional connections and networks was another key consideration."
The ability to forge meaningful professional connections and networks was another key consideration. Being part of a workplace environment allows me to build relationships with experienced professionals who can serve as mentors and provide guidance throughout my career journey. These connections can open doors to exciting opportunities in the future, which has now happened for me numerous times – showing the importance of networking as a young adult looking to start your career.
How did you find being a part of a Visionpath programme?
The apprenticeship was a great learning experience, providing me with a wealth of skills and knowledge that have significantly contributed to my personal and professional development.
Throughout my apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to build a large professional network. Interacting with colleagues, mentors, and industry professionals allowed me to expand my circle of contacts. This network has proven to be immensely valuable, as it has opened doors to new opportunities, provided insights into the industry, and offered guidance on navigating my career effectively.
"Interacting with colleagues, mentors, and industry professionals allowed me to expand my circle of contacts... This network has proven to be immensely valuable"
The apprenticeship also played a crucial role in enhancing my communication skills, as well as helping me learn about communication in a corporate environment. I learned how to convey ideas clearly and concisely, whether through written communication, verbal discussion, or digital platforms. The ability to communicate effectively has not only improved my interactions with colleagues and customers, but has also boosted my confidence in expressing complex ideas and information.
Time management was also a critical skill that I refined during my apprenticeship. Balancing work tasks, meeting deadlines, and prioritising responsibilities were daily challenges that helped me become more organised and efficient. The time management skills I acquired have not only improved my productivity at work, but have also spilled over into my personal life – allowing me to better manage my time and achieve a healthy work-life balance, which is so important in a hybrid role.
What did you enjoy most about being an apprentice?
One of the things I cherished about my apprenticeship was the opportunity to interact and collaborate with fellow apprentices. It was a diverse group with individuals from various backgrounds and skill sets. Sharing experiences, challenges, and successes with this group was very valuable.
"One of the things I cherished about my apprenticeship was the opportunity to interact and collaborate with fellow apprentices."
The apprenticeship also provided me with a unique insight into the inner workings of the company I worked for. I had the chance to delve deep into different departments, understand their functions, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the company's culture, values, and goals. This experience was invaluable because it not only helped me excel in my role, but also gave me a clear sense of how I could contribute to the company's success in the long-term.
What did you find toughest and how did you get the support you needed?
The most significant challenge during my apprenticeship was the transition to a new role halfway through the programme. This change presented a unique set of difficulties, but I was fortunate to receive the support I needed to navigate this transition successfully.
This shift disrupted the continuity of my apprenticeship learning plan, and I needed to find a way to address this change effectively. To address this challenge, I took the proactive step of requesting a break in my apprenticeship learning. I needed time to immerse myself in my new role, gain confidence, and establish a strong foundation before continuing with my apprenticeship coursework.
"The most significant challenge during my apprenticeship was the transition to a new role... but I was fortunate to receive the support I needed to navigate this transition successfully."
Fortunately, both my apprentice tutor and manager were understanding of the situation. They recognised the importance of the new role for my personal and professional development, and also recognised how the new role would only aid my apprenticeship.
Taking this break allowed me to focus on my new role without the added pressure of apprenticeship coursework. Once I felt comfortable and confident in my new position, I resumed my apprenticeship learning. The flexibility and understanding of my tutor and manager made this transition smoother and less stressful.
So many young people are in the same position you were during your A-levels. What advice would you give them?
An apprenticeship can be such a rewarding pathway to kickstart your career and a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. Be open to acquiring new knowledge and skills, and don't be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance from experienced colleagues.
"Be open to acquiring new knowledge and skills, and don't be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance from experienced colleagues."
Building relationships within your company and industry is also essential. Connect with colleagues, mentors, and other apprentices – networking can provide you with valuable insights, support, and potential future career opportunities you didn’t even know existed!
So, what have you been doing since you completed your apprenticeship?
Since finishing my apprenticeship, I’ve started an exciting new chapter in my career journey. I transitioned into the field of marketing, which was a great step for me as it aligns to my long-held aspirations of becoming a marketer.
It has offered me the opportunity to utilise my creativity, analytical skills, and strategic thinking in a dynamic and ever-evolving field. Being part of the marketing team has provided me with the chance to contribute to the growth and success of the organisation while doing work that genuinely excites me.
"Since finishing my apprenticeship, I’ve started an exciting new chapter in my career journey..."
To enhance my expertise and credibility in the field of marketing, I’m currently studying towards a Level 4 Chartered Professional Marketing qualification. This qualification not only deepens my understanding of marketing principles, but also allows me to stay updated with the latest industry trends and best practices. It's a significant step in my ongoing professional development and a testament to my commitment to excel in this field.
Coming up to your A-Levels and wondering what to do next? Jess’ story is a great example of one of the paths you can take. If you’re feeling uncertain about your next steps, find out how we can help.
Or perhaps you’re a careers leader, looking for opportunities to introduce to your students? Get in touch to find out how we can bring our programmes to your school.
Want to hire apprentices into your business but don’t know where to start? Get in touch and our team can help you take the first steps to bring in socially-diverse talent.