To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we hear from 18-year-old Emily Hall who started an apprenticeship at The Open University straight from school and in the middle of a pandemic. Almost three months in, find out how Emily is finding it, what she hopes to gain from studying alongside work, and what it’s like working with a team she has never actually met…
Why did you apply for an apprenticeship?
My A-Levels finished in March 2020 when schools shut down due to the pandemic. I had always known that the traditional route of study was not the best fit for me as I am a creative person and prefer practical learning. An apprenticeship felt like the best choice for me. I could get work experience whilst studying for a qualification.
What were your expectations of taking up an apprenticeship?
I was not sure what to expect when starting my role as a social media apprentice. It was my first experience in a formal workplace. Also being new to remote working, I had a lot to learn. I knew that I would have a mix of study and work tasks to complete but was not sure what my standard week would look like. I also didn’t know how much work there would be compared to studying.
How has it been starting an apprenticeship during the pandemic?
It is strange to start a job from home as I have not seen the office or team in person yet. However, I feel so lucky to have started this apprenticeship as it has given me the opportunity to meet so many new people in a time where we are a lot more isolated.
How have you balanced the work and study elements?
After figuring out how much work and study there is to do, I decided to plan certain times of week to dedicate to getting both done. I have found that the best way to do this is taking two half days a week to complete my apprenticeship study. This works well because everyone on my team knows that I am studying at these times, so I get less emails/meetings distracting me.
How have you been supported in your apprenticeship?
I have had amazing support from the OU since becoming an apprentice. I have regular catch-up calls with my Line Manager who makes sure I have everything I need to be successful in my course. This is also a great time for me to ask any questions I may have. My team have also been helpful and are always happy to call me and talk through the difficult tasks.
What do you hope to gain from the apprenticeship?
As well as a qualification, I am hoping to gain a lot more confidence from the apprenticeship. Being confident is something I have struggled with in the past and talking to new people and having responsibilities is helping me work on that. I also want to learn as much as I can from people in my team and across the OU.
What have you enjoyed most so far?
I have really enjoyed being an apprentice so far. My favourite parts have been meeting my team and being able to create posts for The Open University’s social media accounts. It is exciting to see something I have made being shared.