Monday 5th March marked the first day of National Apprenticeship Week 2018. To celebrate the occasion, we decided to take some of our apprentices on the road to meet as many young people as they could. They are all passionate advocates of apprenticeships, buoyed on by the lack of advice and guidance they got about alternative routes to university when they were at school only a year or two ago. Read on to hear a round up of the day from our Head of Community and Education, Charlotte…

The roadshow team outside school number 1: Juliana, Issy, Keena, Sarah, Morgan and Harry with Taz from Tandem and Charlotte, WhiteHat’s Head of Community and Education

We started off at Marylebone Boys School in North London where we met the Year 10s. Our apprentices had never done anything like this before! The staff made us feel very welcome and had even rearranged their timetable so that we could speak to their students for a good amount of time. Getting up to speak in front of an assembly hall full of boys was a bit intimidating, but once the apprentices got started they were brilliant.

One of the apprentices we heard from was Keena. She is an IT apprentice at Tandem Bank. Keena explained that after school she went to university, mostly because her mum encouraged her to do so. She advised the students to follow their own passions even if that meant having to spend time persuading parents, teachers and friends that it would be the right decision for them.

Keena finally had the courage to leave university halfway through her second year of a Psychology degree. She got a job to start building up her work experience, and then found WhiteHat, who helped her find her true passion: IT. She is now working at a really cool start up in central London, learning from the best in their field. Keena said, ‘the best thing about being an apprentice is the people I come into contact with. I am working with people who are really senior and experienced in the tech world. I never dreamed I’d have such an experience’.

Our next stop was The Global Academy, in Hayes. We were super impressed with this school even before we got inside. What a cool setting, near an old Vinyl Factory surrounded my music lyrics graffitied on the wall.

The roadshow apprentices outside Global Academy

Harry, a Digital Marketing Apprentice at MDR Associates, shared how his expectations before he started his role and the reality of being an apprentice have turned out to be very different. He works as part of a small team managing their website and social media channels amongst other things. When he started he ‘totally expected to be getting everyone teas and coffees,’ but actually feels that instead, he ‘has real roles and responsibilities’. Harry works as part of a 2 man team for an architecture firm. His line manager also trained as an apprentice and they are a great team!

One way to the next school…

After a bit of a lunch, we made our way down South to a Ark All Saints Academy in Camberwell. Part of the Ark Schools Network, this school is attached to church — they even have a secret door connecting the two buildings!

Morgan shared with the students her story: how when she was at school, she had been convinced that to get anywhere worth being she needed to have a degree to prove that she could be good in a job. She got the grades and secured a university place — and then suddenly over the summer after she left school, she had the realisation that she just didn’t want to spend three or four more years studying and revising. She started chatting to other friends, and spoke to one who had landed an amazing apprenticeship in the City — and that’s what sparked her to begin her own search. Now, she’s a Digital Marketing apprentice at Tandem and couldn’t be happier. Her advice: don’t do anything just because someone else expects you to.

Our final stop was The Compass School, Southwark. Mr Guillherme made us feel so welcome. He even put on a spread of fresh fruit, sandwiches and tea for us! Much needed after a day travelling round London. Although the team were tired at this point, they had energy and were still presenting with a smile. Super impressive!

Sarah, the customer services apprentice at Tandem Bank, shared her favourite thing about being an apprentice. ‘I love the freedom I have to manage my own time. You don’t need to ask anyone if you can go to the toilet or eat lunch at your desk. Sounds silly, but it’s great.’