My Journey from Apprenticeship to a Career, by Jade Hark

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By Jade Hark
on 18/3/16

I was one of those people who had no clue where I would be in years to come and I was worried that I wouldn’t get anywhere. I didn’t like the idea of university, years more studying and debt at the end of it with no guarantee of a career. I felt I was someone who wanted to work and earn money straight away.

One morning on my way to college I received a call from Age UK (a career centre) who asked if I was interested in going down the apprentice route. I was more than happy to talk about this life-line they were throwing me, I just knew it would be perfect for me.

The day of the interview came and I walked in expecting to find something related to my course. However, after a quick Maths, English and IT exam they told me that my knowledge was great and they could see me working at a digital marketing agency in Manchester. To me this sounded amazing! Much more than I had expected. They even personally drove me to the interview as the agency were keen to find an apprentice just like me!

And, yes, I was offered the job at Return on Digital! On my first day, I turned up late as I couldn’t find it which was awful, but my Manager, Beth, was so understanding and came to meet me in the middle of Manchester which was an indication of the kind of people I was about to start working with. Everyone was really welcoming, even though I can safely say that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at first.

The days went on and the training from my coursework helped me to get to grips with working in an agency and office environment. With the help of the team I felt I was starting to fit in more and more as new challenges were thrown at me.

Weeks turned into months and I built my confidence and my responsibilities, answering the phones, ordering office supplies and other admin work, as well as starting to support the delivery teams wherever I could add value.

A lot of my learnings have also come from reading the Moz Blog and from attending internal project meetings, lots of listening and taking notes from every meeting or conversation I hear.

The great thing about an apprenticeship is that you are earning while you’re learning. Not only was I working but I was also studying every day without having to sit in lectures like I would have done during university. I am very happy working at Return, and they must be very happy with me as after a year of my apprenticeship, I was taken on as a Junior Account Executive.

My career now is nothing to do with anything that I chose at GCSE or in college. I started from the bottom as a business administration apprentice and I am now looking at becoming a Project Manager. I already cover a lot of these tasks so I feel I am on the right track and finally know where I want to be in life.

My next stage is to continue to build my project management skills and support the Account Management team to deliver impeccable service and delivery to our clients.

My advice to anyone looking at their career options would be that you may not fully know what you want now, but if you push yourself and find your strengths, you can achieve big things – and of course putting in effort and being determined will get you a very long way.