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By Amy Ball on 6 March 2018

I have always been academic. I have nine GCSEs from A-C and three A Levels from A-B. I was that kid who loved school, adored homework and always had her head stuck in a book.

My mum used to worry that I was too ‘book smart’, and didn’t have enough experience in the ‘real world’ – the world of work. And she was right.

Applying for an Apprenticeship was nerve-wracking to say the least. I was much more well-versed in essay writing and textbooks as opposed to learning skills on the job for a career that I aspired towards.

I had an urge within me to take the plunge into a more practical qualification, wherein how well I do depends on how I perform in the workplace each day, faced with real life challenges (instead of how many facts from flash cards I can cram into my head at 3am on a school night).

It was time for me to try something new, and I have never been more grateful for an opportunity than I am for this one.

My Apprenticeship in Business Administration and Marketing has allowed me to get into the routine of a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job, which is a skill in itself. So many degree graduates will go into their first job not knowing what’s hit them.

I have been able to show up to the office at the same time every day, dressed smartly, ready for the encounters of an authentic work environment. I have been involved in campaigns, communicating with internal and external customers and colleagues, helping to stage events and so much more. I never even dreamed that I would be handed so much responsibility at such a young age and with no degree, and I am incredibly appreciative of the way it has allowed me to develop as a person.

As I mentioned, I loved school, and I’m still quite studious, just in a way that I had never comprehended a mere few months ago.

Every single day, I am learning new things and building confidence within my role in the same way as my friends doing their degrees – just in a very practical and invaluable way. I am not ruling out progressing onto a degree course in my future, but I’m much more likely to explore other areas within my career instead, thanks to the prospects my Apprenticeship has given me.

This week has been National Apprenticeship Week, a whole week dedicated to celebrating Apprenticeships and the benefits they provide for everyone. Becoming an apprentice myself, working in a college and speaking to apprentices first hand really has shown me that Apprenticeships are an initiative worthy of a nationwide celebration.