We caught up with Lauren, an existing employee at Clifford Chance on WhiteHat’s Project Management apprenticeship, delivered in partnership with Grant Thornton. We wanted to find out more about Lauren's experience; read on to find out more.

1. Tell us about yourself

My name is Lauren Early and I am 25 years old working at Clifford Chance LLP as a Legal Project Executive. I’ve been in this role for just over a year and am really enjoying it. In the 6 years prior, I was a Legal Support Secretary but made the jump into project management when I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to do a secondment for 4 months in my current role. Now there is no turning back!

2. What prompted you to seek out an apprenticeship?

I have the firm to thank for finding the apprenticeship for me. I’ve always been very vocal about wanting the opportunity to do Project Management training that would equip me with the right skills and qualifications, but I didn’t know where to look. My colleagues were all helpful and explained the pros and cons of the various qualifications but it left me confused about the right course to pursue. Thankfully the firm were really supportive and had listened to what I wanted, and needed, taking it upon themselves to seek out the right apprenticeship for me. I’m now on the WhiteHat Project Management apprenticeship that is delivered in partnership with Grant Thornton, along with 2 of my colleagues.

3. Walk us through your experience with WhiteHat

I personally think WhiteHat are great! They are really attentive to your needs, whether  academically, emotionally or socially. It is very clear from working with Nejmi, my coach, and also from meeting other WhiteHat employees, that they all want what is best for you as an apprentice. They can see potential in people, and really want people to realise that potential in themselves.

4. How has your apprenticeship changed your life?

I’ve worked in the legal industry since the age of 17 and have often felt closed off from other industries due to its very niche nature. Through my apprenticeship, however, I have met a number of people, from a variety of different industries, which has opened my eyes to the different opportunities available to me. This has been boosted by the content I am learning on my apprenticeship, and the awareness of the various ways the learning can be applied.

5. How have you been managing 20% off the job training? Is it easy to fulfil?

Often, a lot of the activity that counts towards your 20% off the job training are things you are doing already. Where I’ve found it difficult is being aware of what counts and remembering to record it - something I often forget to do! This is where WhiteHat and my line manager have come together to support me, helping to get my 20% off the job training back on track and working to keep on top of it.  

6. What do most people get wrong about apprenticeships?

There is often a misconception that apprenticeships are easy and that the people applying for, and undertaking, an apprenticeship are 16-18 year olds fresh out of school or college who can’t go to university. It couldn’t be further from the truth! Apprenticeships are open to everyone and challenge the participant. Plus it demands a lot of you - if you are really busy at work but also have to protect 20% of your time for off the job training then it can become quite pressured.

7. What advice would you give to someone looking to start an apprenticeship?

It is important to assess whether you are in a job that will enable you to dedicate the time needed in order for you to succeed in your apprenticeship, particularly when it comes to managing the 20% off the job training. It’s also important, as a large part of the apprenticeship is applied learning, that the qualification is relevant to your role and is something that you are generally interested in, and want to pursue a career in. Otherwise, it’s a long period of time to devote to something you aren’t really interested in.

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

It would be amazing to see an even more varied group of people on apprenticeships. They aren’t just for young, less academic people or in industries such as construction and carpentry but are a really valuable route for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop new skills in a variety of important areas in business. I want to see the perception of apprenticeships to change and for employers to recognise that those people with an apprenticeship should be valued and sought after just the same as any university graduate.

Disclaimer: whilst WhiteHat’s marketing team worked with Lauren to upload and publish this blog, the views and opinions expressed are entirely her own! If you are interested in finding out more about reskilling employees, get in touch: info@whitehat.org.uk