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My apprenticeship journey

10 February 2021

Joanna Lafferty is a Recruitment Coordinator Apprentice at DWF.  In this blog she talks about her career journey and embarking on an apprenticeship during a global pandemic.

When I decided to embark on the apprenticeship route, there were many factors I had to consider to ensure I achieved the professional development I had been seeking. It was important to me to ensure the chosen course and education provider would equip me with the information, materials and guidance needed to complete my studies to the very best of my ability and also create a pathway of professional progression. 

I caught the travel bug quickly after I graduated University in 2011 and enjoyed experiencing different countries and cultures all over the world. I realised the career path I had chosen in my teens, and continued through to degree level was no longer the career route for me, and I found myself working an array of job roles that gave me the funds to see the world and have adventures. 

After some time, I started to progress and was presented with more responsibility and was able to develop my interpersonal and professional skills. However none of these careers gave me the professional and personal growth I was seeking. 

Fast forward to March 2020 when the global pandemic hit and the UK experienced its first lockdown. During this time I was working within a position that was not offering me what I had been craving within my career and did not leave me feeling fulfilled or proud at the end of the day. Like so many during this time I was made redundant and found myself looking for the next step. With an apprenticeship, I could see the career progression I wanted and within an environment I could develop my knowledge and communication skills, progressing further professionally and academically. 

I decided to apply for apprenticeship opportunities within my field of experience and I was successful in securing a position within the People Investment team at DWF. 

I joined my current role as a Recruitment Coordinator in October 2020 with the Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship to start January 2021. I am now three weeks into my apprenticeship studies and there is so much information, materials and support available to me, both from DWF and BPP. During the on-boarding process, there was a continuous stream of support at every level.

Every stage of the process was effectively communicated and it was a very smooth transition between having the time to settle into my professional role with DWF, to starting my apprenticeship off-the-job studies through BPP.

Starting any new professional or academic journey, can be scary, overwhelming and confusing at the best of times, so starting during a pandemic and second lockdown, with all communications and learning being provided online for the foreseeable, added a multitude of concerns of how this role would develop and how my studies may be affected. All these concerns, as they have arisen, have been listened to, understood and respected with encouraging options and a supportive ear. 

The induction of the apprenticeship was an informative and productive way of allowing the cohort to meet remotely and we were able to have various discussions with one another via webchat or microphone – this is something the team at BPP are always encouraging, whilst creating an engaging and creative way of online learning. 

Within these first few weeks, I have met my Coach via Microsoft Teams, who patiently went through any questions I had, from accessing information on the BPP Online Hub and the structure of the apprenticeship, right down to who I can contact should I have any personal difficulties that I may need support with throughout the duration of my studies. I instantly felt relaxed and comfortable knowing I had this support system, not just from my Coach, but the wider team at BPP –  the programme leader, tutors and the entire admin support team. 

I have attended two live introductory webinars included in the apprenticeship so far. The first, outlaying the structure and progression of the first mission - 'Me and my organisation' and how I can research and relate this information to my current role. The second, an in depth guidance on building a professional portfolio. This is a continuous foundation during the apprenticeship and how I will be showcasing my skills, knowledge and behaviour development throughout the missions, leading to the final end point assessment. The mixture of live and recorded webinars allows the balance of interactive learning alongside self-study, which is a very beneficial and productive source of learning.  

I liaise with the entirety of divisions across DWF, learning all aspects of working within a recruitment team, building relationships with current and future employees, gaining exposure to a whole range of situations that academic learning alone could never provide, all whilst building a vast portfolio of work along the way, which will develop my knowledge in both my professional and academic progress. 

Being a proactive, self-starter is keeping me focussed, but the constant and consistent support of my employer, colleagues and the team at BPP is allowing me to keep on track and know that any future concerns or worries I may have can be addressed and overcome. 

If you are considering an apprenticeship then there are choices out there for practically every industry in one form or another – you just need to take the time to find the right one for you. They can benefit anyone or any age and are not just for 16-18 year olds; I am proof of that. I had my reservations at first - moving back in with parents in my 30s, adapting to the national living wage again and putting myself in an environment where I would be around other apprentices, who could be at least a decade younger than me. In the end, I took the leap. I trusted my instinct of this being the right employer and team who would support me through the apprenticeship, the right educational provider that would equip me with the skills I need to obtain the qualification and the career progression I was seeking. The long term advantages for me, outweighed the short term changes I needed to make. 

My apprenticeship is allowing me to change my career direction, gain an A-Level equivalent qualification, continue to earn, and build a future for myself that I am genuinely excited for. Ensuring I am working to the best of my ability throughout the apprenticeship, using my self-study time wisely and productively, attending all live webinars as arranged to gain the knowledge and interaction necessary with my tutors and cohort will be the key to a successful apprenticeship experience and grade. 

Lastly, it is understanding and appreciating that this is a fantastic opportunity to develop and learn new skills whilst building upon my knowledge within a professional and academic environment. Working within a strong, passionate team in a fantastic business has shown me I have already made it on to the first step of the career ladder and creating the pathway for my professional future that has been a long time coming. 

Joanna Lafferty, Recruitment Coordinator Apprentice

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