We caught up with George, one of WhiteHat’s Business Associate apprentices working as SDR alongside the WhiteHat sales team. We wanted to find out more about George's experience; read on to find out how his apprenticeship has changed his life.

1. Tell us about yourself

I’m 18 years old, and I’ve been a WhiteHat apprentice for 4 months. Before WhiteHat I spent my weekends working in retail, and spending the week attending Sixth Form. I had a rough time in Year 12 and didn’t enjoy my experience. As a result, my attendance rate was 24% by the end of my first year. I received an E and a U as my AS level grades - which effectively meant that I couldn’t succeed in Year 13 - as my lack of work in Year 12 dragged me down. I retook my AS levels in the same year that I sat my A2 level exams, which meant I was putting in 10 hour shifts at school while still maintaining my part time job. I was both physically and mentally exhausted by the time I finished but it was all worth it - in the end I passed my 3 A Levels.

2. What prompted you to seek out an apprenticeship?

Looking back at it, there were many aspects that pushed me both towards an apprenticeship, and away from university. Of course, earning money (and not being in 40k debt) was a big aspect for me, however I believe that the ability to work my way up within my respective industry and continue to gain knowledge that I can use in my day-to-day was what appealed to me the most. I believe that I do have potential but I didn’t believe I’d be able to access it if I was running in and out of lecture rooms for the next 3 years.

George with fellow WhiteHat apprentice, Lilly-Mae

3. Where were you when you had that lightning-strike moment that made you realise you didn’t have to follow the traditional path?

The moment that I realised that I didn’t have to follow the traditional path was when I saw everyone else doing so. My school friends all committed to university either because my Sixth Form pushed it so much, or because they wanted the social experience. This allowed me to realise that many of them weren’t going with their education/career in mind, and that I didn’t have to follow the crowd – my future was in my hands, and so I started to research how to make the most out of the position that I was in.

4. Walk us through your experience with WhiteHat

From the moment I came across WhiteHat, I believed that I’d have a better experience with them than with any other provider. And I was right. Whether it’s the tailored coaching experience that you receive, or the community aspect that they provide, my whole experience so far has been amazing. I’ve been so impressed with how WhiteHat have assisted both me and so many others in progressing our careers, overcoming challenges both in and outside of work that we’ve been faced with, and even making decisions regarding what apprenticeship route to take – at one point I was interested in a customer service role that I don’t believe I would’ve been successful in (admittedly, I was mainly interested because the company itself was exciting & the wage was good), and the team at WhiteHat did an incredible job of assisting me in finding other roles that I would’ve been much more successful in (one of which I’m in now). I recently met the apprentice that took on the customer service role, and after speaking to him regarding his day-to-day, I’m glad that they did so!

5. How has your apprenticeship changed your life?

There are many ways in which my apprenticeship has changed my life for the better. Being able to network through WhiteHat’s incredible social community & events has created incredible business opportunities and has allowed me to meet many great people, the learning content & workshops have allowed me to thrive within my role and develop crucial skills needed both in and outside of work, and what’s impressed me the most is their devotion help us apprentices develop into a diverse group of future leaders – whether you want to earn a promotion within your company, or complete your apprenticeship and start your own business, WhiteHat are so supportive and are determined to help you reach your goals.

George and the WhiteHat sales team

6. What do most people get wrong about apprenticeships?

The thing that people get wrong about apprenticeships is the widespread perception. Apprentices are not just young men in boiler suits and hard hats, and they’re not a cost-effective solution for hard labour. They’re people who are eager to get their foot in the door and are devoted to working hard alongside with the rest of your organisation to achieve success for both themselves and the business. They’re an excellent way for businesses to create their own pipeline of diverse talent, who are going to grow into excellent employees as they progress throughout their apprenticeship.

7. Where do you want to see the UK get to with apprenticeships?

Ideally, I’d like to see apprenticeships on the same level that university is viewed at – from both experience and word of mouth, I can tell you that most Sixth Forms push university way more than apprenticeships – and this shouldn’t be the case. Young people should be exposed to apprenticeships just as much as they are to university, as apprenticeships are such a good way to kickstart an incredible career, and gain the knowledge, skills and connections that’ll help you to go far. As a result of this, I’m visiting my previous Sixth Form later this month, to push the idea of apprenticeships to the students – hopefully, this will widen their view regarding what to do in the future, and open their eyes to the excellent opportunities that they have right in front of them.

8. Any final comments?

I’d say that whether you’re a non-grad or an employer who’s on the fence about apprenticeships, just give WhiteHat a call – they’re always more than happy to help.

Disclaimer: whilst WhiteHat’s marketing team worked with George to upload and publish this blog, the views and opinions expressed are entirely his own! If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch directly: george.fogden@whitehat.org.uk

George and some of the other WhiteHat apprentices at the Apprentice Nation launch