My Apprenticeship Story by Eniya Ali

Empowered to combine a passion for design and psychology 

At school, the subjects I liked the most were arts, science and humanities. I’d say it’s because they were subjects where I could unleash the most creativity, as this is something I felt passionate about. Although I have a passion for design, I felt that going to university for a design degree wouldn’t have benefited me. Throughout school and college, I sought out opportunities to develop my skills as a designer, and I picked up industry experience working as a graphic designer during college. Therefore, I was ready for a new challenge. I was keen to pursue a career that combined psychology and design because I was curious about people, and the digital user experience degree apprenticeship does exactly that. So here is #MyApprenticeshipStory

My sister did an apprenticeship a decade ago in software engineering and that had a big impact on how I viewed further education. I felt empowered and that I had more autonomy over the different routes that I could take to shape my future career, and tailor it for what works best for me.

At Auto Trader there were 4 steps in the recruitment process. The first was submitting an application with a CV and answering a few questions. It was all held remotely because it was during COVID-19, so the second step was a video call with a member of the design team with questions around values. In the third stage I was invited to a virtual assessment centre. This entailed situational judgment questions, competency questions, group task and design task. Finally, the last stage was a one to one interview with a member of the OLT (more senior head of staff that report directly to the CEO).

The apprenticeship structure is 80% work and 20% training towards my degree. So in my 20%, I attend university in sprint block learning, so for a whole week every month in the uni term dates. I also block out time during the working week to focus on any uni assignments. At Auto Trader there are a plethora of initiatives in place for training and development, so I also frequently attend those. I am also a facilitator for our internal career kickstart network where we plan and host events and workshops to encourage early career networking and development, within the workplace.

The best thing I like about being an apprentice is how empowered I feel that I am tailoring a career that works for me and learning new things every single day. I have a lot of support from work and it has given me a clearer sense of direction that I would probably lack if I went to university. It also helps me align how I live the rest of my life, structuring non work commitments around a 9-5, I feel a lot more productive and progressive in my self development.

Apprenticeships are practical and you learn on the job, but courses are more limited compared to the wide range of university degrees out there. So if you have a career in mind, it’s worth researching if there are any apprenticeship opportunities in the field. If you’re not too sure on a career but you’re interested in doing an apprenticeship, my advice is to have a love of learning, believe in your abilities and think of how you can develop transferable skills at this stage.

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