My Apprenticeship Story by Sophie Oak

Assignments, apprenticeship frameworks, imposter phenomenon and a pandemic!

No one said it was going to be a walk in the park, but when I first set out on the Degree Apprenticeship pathway with Gaia Innovation Ltd and Sheffield Hallam University in 2018, I was unaware of the turbulent years ahead; and that I would become so familiar with working in my bedroom!   

#MyApprenticeshipStory began when I met my future colleagues at a university open evening. They were searching for an Apprentice Events Manager, an d described an inspiring company purpose that I wanted to be part of.

I’d always liked the idea of doing a degree apprenticeship, as I wanted to earn money whilst learning. But, my grades were good throughout school, so I was encouraged to take the full time university route by careers advisors, who suggested it was better than a vocational pathway. She was wrong. 

After deliberation, I decided practical learning was the only way I could successfully develop my career, as I found it hard to sit in a classroom for any length of time, and I struggled with concentration. So, a Level 6 Professional Practice in Management Degree Apprenticeship gave the perfect combination of attending university for short bursts of academic teaching, whilst learning real world skills in a workplace.

Block release allowed me to focus solely on my university studies for the week, as well as enjoying the social side of university, which resulted in me making some of my best friends along the way. My course friends were important in my journey, because we could directly relate to one another, and understand the challenges that came along with full time work and studying.

I achieved a first class degree, and a distinction in my apprenticeship, which gave me #SkillsForLife, including communication skills, project management, problem solving and many more. Here I am in the picture above demonstrating my presentation and public speaking skills, as part of our Inspiration for Innovation Network school visits. I’m now the Communications Manager for the Automotive 30% Club, and although like many women in the sector I experience Imposter Phenomenon at times, I’ve been reassured about my work performance and future potential by my manager and colleagues, so I’m always willing to try something out of my comfort zone. 

I have a job where I’m paid to talk to lots of inspiring automotive people and school staff, perform on stage and speak to school students as a ‘real model”, and create and publish content on social media. What’s not to like!  

I would advise anyone considering an apprenticeship to embrace the opportunity to learn, absorb the knowledge of others around you, ask questions and say yes to every opportunity. Due to the vast range of apprenticeships offered in the automotive sector, there will be one to suit you whatever your interest, so come and join us!

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