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'Experiences outside the classroom are the ones that open doors'

Tes' #InspiringApprentices campaign: After disappointing A-level grades, Mustansir Nurbhai is now flourishing in private banking

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My name is Mustansir Nurbhai, I’m 22 years old and from Wembley in London. In 2015, I started an apprenticeship as a private banking advice manager with Lloyds Bank, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.

I’d always known that going to university wasn’t for me. While I enjoyed school, I wasn’t the most academic person and with so many different degree course options, I struggled to pick one that would be right for me.

I’m the type of person that likes a challenge and doesn’t mind diving in at the deep end. I was desperate for an opportunity to learn on the job and an apprenticeship position offered me everything I needed: real-world experience, independence and a chance to improve my employability.

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Background: Tes launches #InspiringApprentices campaign

Other news: Minister backs #InspiringApprentices campaign 

Standing out from the crowd

I was really nervous about the job-hunting process. I’d achieved C and D grades in my A levels, which I knew wouldn’t be enough to get my foot in the door. I made sure to use skills and experiences learned through any extracurricular activities I’d taken, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), to ensure my CV stood out from the crowd.

When it came to the interview, I shouldn’t have been worried. My interviewer had also done their DofE as a teenager, so I knew that she’d have a good understanding of the skills I’d developed, such as leadership, adaptability and the ability to problem-solve effectively. We quickly found a common ground and began discussing the adventures we’d been on as part of our expeditions. I also had a range of practical examples from my DofE volunteering in schools and with local charities to demonstrate my breadth of skills and what I was capable of.

There were more than 1,000 applicants for the Lloyd's Bank higher relationship apprenticeship scheme, which offered 10 positions across the country, including two in London. It's crazy to think that out of 1,000 people, many of whom might have been academically stronger than me, I was selected. I always think to myself, "What was it that made them pick me?" And then I remember: it was my confidence, determination and resilience, which I’d demonstrated in my interview and highlighted on my CV.

Taking on responsibilities

From day one, Lloyds were really keen to develop me, and I got stuck in straightaway with taking on responsibilities and looking to implement changes. I progressed very quickly, and after 16 months was promoted to senior relationship associate. My day-to-day work involves speaking to clients, managing diaries, providing market information and investment valuations. I have a really supportive team who care about my ongoing development and I continue to benefit from training opportunities such as learning how to be more resilient, developing leadership skills and much more.

My level of responsibility has grown considerably, and I now work in wealth management, which involves taking instructions and providing guidance to customers on their investments. I know I seem young to be giving out financial advice, but it’s the continual support, guidance and training I was offered as part of my apprenticeship programme that has helped me to progress so quickly.

While academic qualifications are important, my apprenticeship story shows that experiences outside of the classroom are the ones that have helped open doors to new opportunities and continue to put me ahead.

I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved, and I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who has a drive to learn and develop themselves within a working environment and be earning a salary at the same time! There are loads of opportunities out there – put yourself forward, show your passion for learning and succeeding and I'm sure you will prosper.

Mustansir Nurbhai is doing an apprenticeship as a private banking advice manager with Lloyds Bank. His story is part of the #InspiringApprentices campaign

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