Following my first year of A levels, I thought I was lost; I believed that university was the only respectable option and that there were few alternatives that would help me to progress. Fast-forward three years and I cannot believe that even crossed my mind.
My role as an apprentice and as a trainee project manager has helped me to gain contacts and experience that would not have been possible by just going to university.
For example, I currently maintain, develop and refurbish buildings across our London portfolio by assisting with the day-to-day management of our construction projects. University isn’t the right path for everyone, as everyone has different ambitions in the workplace and at school. This is why I believe apprenticeships are one of the best routes to success.
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The apprenticeship option
Completing your A levels is a stressful time in any student’s life. It is the first milestone from which you can leap into work or university. I had heard about apprenticeships, but I found it hard to juggle applying to university, applying for jobs and revising for exams. I feel like colleges perceive taking A levels and going to university as the natural progression and they don’t always discuss the other options.
WhiteHat is my current training provider, helping me to study towards a level 3 apprenticeship in business administration. It has really impressed me in its drive to help young people like myself to succeed. For example, we are invited to attend industry-led workshops and networking events to build connections we’ll need in the future.
I don’t think I could have been luckier than being an apprentice at Grosvenor. My parents, colleagues and friends were really supportive from the start, which helped me to settle into the business really quickly. Since the start, I have been involved in many high-level projects, such as the development of the South Molton Triangle and building refurbishments across the estate.
A respected team member
I feel like I have been valued by both Grosvenor and WhiteHat, as they have continually pushed me to succeed in the business and working world. A great example of this was my apprenticeship final project, where my senior colleagues have shared my research into construction waste with the wider business. No wonder I’m being asked so many questions! This has helped me to become a respected member of the team.
The next few years will be key for my development. I have been offered a position within one of Grosvenor’s contractors, Ethos Facilities, which will see me become an assistant project manager. And from September, I will also be taking on a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering, which has also been paid for by my future employer. I would like to see myself as a senior project manager by the time I’m 30. By that time, I would have become qualified and had over 10 years' industry experience.
Apprenticeships open up possibilities
I believe apprenticeships are the best route to success within a business, and the benefits not only lie in gaining valuable experience. I believe apprenticeships enable you to start pursuing the other dreams you have in life. For example, during my time as an apprentice I have travelled as far as Malaysia and Thailand, bought myself a car and had so much fun having the money for whatever I have wanted to do.
Don’t get me wrong. University and apprenticeships both have their benefits, and I have many friends who have gone to university and have loved every moment of it. But one of my main tips is to consider what you really love to do, and to research options in that field.
If you do not have the drive and desire to succeed in a job you love, you certainly won’t have it in a job you don’t like. Secondly, be brave. Choose a career YOU want to do, not one you’re forced into or the one which will make you the most money. And lastly, just be happy and be yourself. Nothing works better in job interviews. Fact.
Matthew Hassell, 20, is a WhiteHat apprentice, working as a trainee project manager at Grosvenor Estates Limited. His blog is part of the Tes #InspiringApprentices campaign