amy ball blog
By Amy Ball on 30 January 2018

I have always been a high achiever when it comes to academics. I flew through my GCSEs, studied hard and achieved an A and two Bs at A Level, the grades needed to get me into my chosen university.

But when September came around, I’d had a change of heart.

Instead of going to university, which is considered ‘normal’ for someone with my grades, I decided to change my path slightly, starting a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Business Administration, working in the marketing department at Northampton College. Marketing has always been a career I was fascinated by, but the idea of a degree scared me. I wasn’t too sure whether I wanted to invest so much time (and money!) into something I had only thought about, as opposed to experiencing it directly. It was then that I decided to seriously consider an Apprenticeship, as it seemed to be the perfect mix of study and practical training, so I could experience an entirely new world of work, along with gaining a qualification.

To begin with, I was wary of doing an Apprenticeship as opposed to a degree. It felt almost like a step down, and seeing all of my friends go off to university made me reconsider whether or not I was making the right choice. I was definitely given a push towards university and academia and away from the more vocational qualifications, meaning I didn’t have much access to information on Apprenticeship vacancies, qualifications or general advice on the system, which further fuelled my worries.

However, I was soon put in contact with Northampton College through the National Apprenticeship Service, and my doubts began to disappear. I attended the college’s Apprenticeship drop-in service, and spoke to the team who matched my skills and interests with some of the vacancies. Things moved fairly quickly from there - I found a placement that seemed as if it was tailor-made for me, my skillset and the skills I wanted to learn and improve upon. As I am writing this, it’s my first week on the job, and I have never been more proud to take the plunge into an entirely new career, and happy with the decisions I have made to get me to this point. I feel settled in, ready and raring to go with a whole range of new challenges!

When conducting my own research on Apprenticeships, I found lots of case studies on successful young adults who were gradually moving up in their careers due to the start that their Apprenticeship gave them, which really inspired me to find a vacancy and start my journey in the same way. Looking back now, I genuinely feel as though I could soon be one of them, thanks to the combination of learning both through modules and daily tasks I undertake on the job. At first, it can seem scary to dive headfirst into a career you feel you know nothing about, but I know now that by throwing yourself in and getting involved, you can learn from the experience and enjoy it too!