Jess's Apprenticeship Journey - December
Jessica is 17 and started her Level 3 Apprenticeship in Business Administration in November, joining the engagement team here at Ixion. We’ll be catching up with her monthly to find out her highs and lows and how she has applied newly acquired skills, knowledge and behaviours in her new role!
Find out how she got along in her first month below, and Jess’s top tips for working at home!
“During my time at school I struggled with different teachers, so to now have a tutor who is so helpful and understanding was a massive relief – and I felt like there was an individual focus on me that I am not used to as in school it is easy to just be one of the many students a teacher deals with.”
What were you doing before you started your apprenticeship?
Before I started my apprenticeship, I had a part-time job working at the McDonald’s on the High Street as well as a volunteering job working for Renew Counselling. I had just left college and was very unsure of my next steps. So, I started working a few more shifts at McDonalds and volunteering alongside.
After a while it was becoming clear to myself and others I had gotten myself stuck in a rut. I wanted to get some direction and stability back in my life but felt going to college full-time was not an option for me, because working a weekend job on top of college meant I would be left with little time for myself and I knew that was not going to be sustainable personally so I found this thought quite daunting.
Then when I was at my volunteering job discussing with a co-worker how I was unsure of what to do next – but that I enjoyed helping them out in the office – they recommended looking at an apprenticeship as a great way of getting your foot in the door somewhere whilst being able to get a qualification and get paid. Apprenticeships are for anyone of any age, it still means having to complete work to go towards a qualification included in off-the-job working hours, although surprisingly to its name it is done during your working hours. You also gain experience and knowledge in your working field at the same time.
I was shocked after having a look online about apprenticeships that they are not advertised more or spoken about especially in school as I had not realised how beneficial they are and knew it was the best way forward. I then began the hunt for an apprenticeship in an Admin related role.
Tell us about your application and interview.
When I started looking for an apprenticeship, I went onto the government apprenticeship website, put in my postcode and could not see anything that stuck out to me. I went back every week to see if an apprenticeship in administration had come up as after working as a Business Admin and Receptionist at my volunteer job I had my mind set on it.
When I saw a vacancy come up at Ixion I applied straight away. I was nervous and eager to hear back and was concerned that my qualifications would not be enough. But one Friday after a busy morning I saw a missed call from a number and had a voicemail, so I called back straight away because its better to go and show enthusiasm than wait to see if they call again, on that call I arranged an online interview to take place via Microsoft teams. I was also sent an email with instructions to create a presentation.
This was very nerve wracking to me as although I had a paid job and volunteering experience my interview experience was nearly zero, my interview for my volunteers’ contract was more of an informal discussion as I had already been doing volunteer work there for a while through a family friend and securing an official contract was more of a reward for my efforts, as well I did not have an official interview for my job at McDonald’s, I was asked to fill out a few forms and that was it.
So, to prepare for my interview I wrote up a mock presentation, presented it to a friend and then made improvements from their comments, then gave the presentation to a work colleague I did not know and again improved it. I also asked if I could get some mock interview questions and planned to have a trial run before the real thing. I was unable to have the practise interview because a family member became unwell, however I think it is always a good idea for you to take-away that a practise interview can help settle your nerves, so before my interview I was very stressed out due to a family issue I was also really nervous as all of the plans I had made for that morning to make me feel prepared and organised went out the window, nothing had gone to plan and I was on my own to prepare myself, but I got through the interview, thankfully!
Honestly, I was disappointed initially with myself as I felt it did not go well because I was not feeling and giving 100% in it. I heard back just the next day and leading up to the call even on it I felt sick with nerves and when I got the news I had been successful I was over the moon. I typed up my resignation for my job at McDonalds and handed it in straight away, I was so excited I just could not wait. It goes to show if you prepare well and try your hardest even though it might not go as you imagined you can still be successful – you just have to try to be resilient even if you don’t feel it.
Tell us about your induction and first days.
Working my notice felt like it was going on forever! But I knew good things were in store for me! Before I could start, I had to complete initial Maths and English assessments, as well as a Neurodiversity quiz on Cognassist. I was interested to see how well I had done as it had been nearly a year since leaving all forms of education, but I surprised myself and did well. Either way I would have been happy to get the extra help and include it in my off-the-job training, but I know I can make it up elsewhere.
I was apprehensive about meeting a whole new team of people and being the new girl again because I was very lucky to have gotten on so well with all my co-workers at my previous jobs and had made great friends there, but I knew it was just another part of my journey. Especially working from home, I would not say I am an overly shy person, but I found it hard to read the room and speak up online on teams. It is very different working from home and with it brings challenges, but I know they are easy to overcome and just enjoy it as another new experience.
When I met Maria, my tutor, I was overjoyed to be lucky enough to have such a lovely tutor help me – and my team, too. During my time at school I struggled with different teachers, so to now have a tutor who is so helpful and understanding was a massive relief – and I felt like there was an individual focus on me that I am not used to as in school it is easy to just be one of the many students a teacher deals with.
I was one of the lucky few people to get my equipment on my third day so I hear, apart from that I am just waiting on a DBS Check to come back so I can get access to certain areas I need, but so far I am just trying to be like a sponge and absorb as much learning as I can and have started to be able to do some of the tasks in my job description but there is still much progress to be had.
I am enjoying my new apprenticeship very much and I am looking forward to it being a new chapter in my life and aim by the next blog update to have access where I need it and am putting into further practice all the new skills I am learning.
What knowledge, skills and behaviours have you developed so far on your apprenticeship?
Important skills I have learnt is how to present myself in a formal setting which is very crucial going into a new apprenticeship is to make yourself aware of how the environment you work in is going to affect what is and is not appropriate to wear.
By completing my mandatory training on Health and Safety, Safeguarding, ISAT, Equality and Diversity, it has made me more aware on topics I had never had specific training on beforehand and I found it interesting to learn about the policies that are in place at Ixion.
Learning how to use teams and work from home was very different to start with, I am new and working from home whilst trying to learn the right and wrong ways and using teams for the first time was a challenge. But I have got a good understanding of teams now after daily practise, and as for learning the ways in which things are done, I am grateful for the option to share screens it has been very helpful.
To report back my progress and what I do with my tutor, we use an online learning platform called OneFile. I had never used a system like it before and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert but I am definitely getting used to how it works, and have been uploading and completing tasks set by my tutor. My aim for OneFile is to become more familiar with all of its uses and I know that will come with time and the more I use it the more knowledge I get.
What was the highlight of this month?
As I am new and awaiting my DBS check my workload was light to start with as I also needed time to get used to the systems, and the ways to do things. For my apprenticeship I completed training on the Shaw Academy site and uploaded it onto OneFile, I also completed a document about my Personal Performance and Development where I completed a self-assessment documenting my previous experiences and how I can use them along with the new training I am receiving to continue in progressing further into my apprenticeship.
In my job as an Employer Engagement Administrator, I have been uploading new apprentices onto websites such as BKSB and Cognassist and sending out links for initial assessments, not all of them on my own but working alongside others. I have also been learning about the recruitment process and starting to review applications and comparing them to the job description. I also helped to update a BBO Spreadsheet and find the contact details of employers we currently have apprentices with, currently whilst I am assisting in tasks and helping with certain areas I cannot start to do more until I have my DBS back, my next target once I have the rest of the access, I need is to start to update our tracker and I will inform you on how it goes on the next blog.
What did you find the most challenging?
The biggest challenge so far has been working from home, I would say I am a fairly quick learner so picking up the new ways to input information onto systems and upload new learners whilst can be challenging I wouldn’t say have been the biggest issue.
Working from home comes with benefits, my travel to work is the walk from my bedroom to the living room – it consists of one flight of stairs and I am there! Initially I loved the comfort of meeting new people in an area I am familiar and feel safe in however going from a job where you spend eight+ hours standing on your feet running back and forth, to a desk job which is more mentally tasking than physically has a knock-on effect. You become less active, snacking can become a habit and without someone keeping a direct eye on you there is a temptation to not be as productive, so it is something which is taking a bit of time adjusting and adapting to.
But not all hope is lost, there are ways around it. Yes, they are new and yes, they are different, but change is good, change moves you forward. One thing I have started to do is get into a routine in the morning before work and get ready as if I were going into an actual office.
I have also started going on jogs or walks, I always liked the gym but due to covid-19 they are currently shut but going on a morning or lunchtime walk helps you to stay active and I aim to get back to training when the gym opens.
To combat the temptation of snacking, I take my lunch break at the same time each day and make sure I have a healthy breakfast that fills me up and – just in case I cannot help it! -make sure that when I do have a snack it is a piece of fruit or similar just a little something to keep me going. Taking a regular break to grab a drink also helps as it is easy to get dehydrated, so I keep a full jug of water near my desk.
To avoid one of the biggest temptations I keep my phone in a drawer in my desk and only check and reply messages when I am on my break, before and after work to simulate what I would do if I were in the office, at home. It also helps to maintain a work-home life balance to stop work invading your home life and your home life invading your work time.
I would label those as my personal top tips to be a successful worker from home, and personally I have found these to be very effective to the change in lifestyle that has come with my new apprenticeship, I aim by the next blog to be able to share more of my top tips about apprenticeship and methods to overcome a challenge.
What five words describe your learning this month?
I would describe my learning this month as, new, exciting, informative, absorbing and fascinating.
My team quiz on Christmas jumper day!
“I was shocked after having a look online about apprenticeships that they are not advertised more or spoken about especially in school, as I had not realised how beneficial they are and knew it was the best way forward.”
Maria Seal, Tutor
“Jess is such a lovely young lady and has settled into her role perfectly. I reassured her about the team before meeting them as Jess has only been working for Ixion for two days!
When I first met Jess, she was of course nervous, but after a little chin-wag she soon got chatty and we got on with her enrollment. I then set Jess her first task and I have already received this back, and her work is phenomenal.
She joined our team meeting this morning to meet the other Teaching Assessors, my line manager and IQA as she will be having a lot of involvement with them, so its was a perfect opportunity for Jess to see the team that she will be assisting and to see if there was any questions regarding her role with the team. I have had lots of positive feedback regarding Jess, not just from my team but also our colleagues.
I am honoured that I have been chosen to be Jess’s Teaching Assessor for her Business Admininistration Level 3 Apprenticeship, and really looking forward to see what next year brings to her journey.
I will definitely have to keep an eye on her “sweet tooth”! “