Finance apprentice Network Rail
Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to apply to a Sutton Trust programme’?
I grew up and went to school in Nuneaton, a town not far from Birmingham. During my GCSEs, the careers advice was almost non-existent at my school, so I had to seek it for myself! That’s when I came across the Sutton Trust programme, Pathways to Law. The programme was an amazing experience and one of the most important things it did was help me to realise that law wasn’t for me. Understanding more about the day-to-day tasks of many legal professionals made me realise that I wanted to do something with numbers, rather than words. I suppose it’s a relatively obvious thing to realise, but as someone who doesn’t know any lawyers, I had never really thought about what it might involve.
What led you towards applying for an apprenticeship?
I never considered moving away from home. I was either going to commute from my parents’ house to university or for an apprenticeship. Although my sixth form was more focused on applying to university, the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ seemed like an obvious option. This decision was made easier when they replaced maintenance grants with loans! The cost of commuting to university and not earning a wage would have just been too much without extra support.
The application process for apprenticeships is tough. Compared to university, there were definitely extra steps. We had to do an online application, individual interviews, and group interviews, and I had to navigate it alone as my parents didn’t know anything about the process. Although this was difficult, when I was offered the position, it felt like a huge achievement. I also feel more prepared for the tough interview processes that will no doubt come later in life, something I don’t think you get from the UCAS applications.
Do you feel your apprenticeship has provided you with transferable skills?
As I am gaining most new skills practically in the workplace, I can definitely see how they will be useful elsewhere! Also, I will finish my apprenticeship with the same qualifications as someone who completes the graduate scheme– a fully certified CIMA qualification – which provides a great foundation to apply for other roles. Working in the public sector at Network Rail has been fascinating and one day I would love to work for the Department of Transport.
Do you have any advice for other young people thinking about their future?
For disadvantaged students, access schemes are widely available, but unfortunately these may not necessarily be promoted by your teachers. If you are interested in an apprenticeship, be proactive and seek out programmes like Pure Potential, the Sutton Trust and the EY Foundation! They really helped me to make an informed decision when I left school and unless careers advice improves, they are the best option if you want to get a broader understanding of the different career paths available.