My name is Emma Beauchamp, I am 21 and from Darlington, and I am studying towards a chartered management degree apprenticeship at the Teesside University. My employer, Gestamp Tallent, has offered me a permanent role already – two years early. However, I am continuing my studies to complete the apprenticeship.
I was diagnosed with joint hypermobility syndrome during my GCSEs and ended up splitting my A levels over three years to help me manage. At the end of my second year, however, I began to question if another year was definitely what I wanted to do. And one day, while I was in a careers meeting at college, Gestamp called my careers adviser to say they were hoping to recruit commercial apprentices that year – fate perhaps?
Background: Minister backs #InspiringApprentices campaign
More inspiring apprentices: 'My apprenticeship got me on the career ladder'
'Perfect for me'
I researched the company’s apprenticehip programme and just knew their degree apprenticeship was perfect for me. This is why I have been so passionate about promoting apprenticeships: it’s been the best decision I ever made, and I looked into it only by chance.
I had no idea what the apprenticeship was going to entail. No one I knew had completed one, nor had I ever spoken to anyone about them before. I expected to do only minor work within each department that I spent time in. However, I actually became involved in exciting and key projects and spent time experiencing real jobs.
The apprenticeship went over and above my expectations. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have even considered going to university. I never knew just how much I would love working within an engineering and automotive environment.
Current needs of the business
My typical workday as an apprentice is always changing as I have spent time in seven different departments, including production control, operations, quality management systems, commercial/sales, human resources, purchasing and finance. I would complete projects and daily tasks depending on the needs of the business and department, such as helping out with customer deadlines, taking ownership of the logistics of a part, managing installing new manufacturing cells internally and externally with the supplier, and conducting plant tours for visitors. I even got to visit Ford in Valencia!
I have loved every bit of my apprenticeship and feel so lucky to have been able to develop the relationships I have, and I will always be grateful to Gestamp for giving me this opportunity. Every colleague has met me with just as much respect as anyone else in the department and treated me as though I have real value to the team. We were given mentors to guide us, alongside the training manager supporting us throughout the apprenticeship. Every manager treats us like we are just part of the team.
My favourite part of my job is learning about all the different roles I could one day potentially apply for and being taught by so many experienced people. The way my commercial apprenticeship has blended with my chartered management degree has been second to none, I have been able to study all areas of the business alongside actually working in every area of that business.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have chosen to the route I did. I am constantly reminded of how beneficial it is going to be when I finish my degree to already have four years of work experience under my belt. Being able to relate theory to a real-life workplace and vice versa has been invaluable.
My family were extremely supportive of my choice to take the apprenticeship route. A lot of my friends were sceptical at first because they thought I would miss out on the “uni life”. However, they now see that I still get to enjoy my twenties alongside gaining a degree and building my career four years earlier than everyone else!
I have been so grateful to have been offered a permanent job already, while the company is happy to continue supporting the degree side of my apprenticeship. My apprenticeship gave me the chance to prove myself and I’m so glad I worked as hard as I did for it all to pay off.
I would recommend this route to anyone going from school to university. I would even recommend it for people after university or halfway through their career. I catch myself talking about apprenticeships and my experience to people all the time. Even if all I did was get someone to consider an apprenticeship, I would feel like a success. I’m really passionate about removing the old stigma around apprenticeships and sometimes targeting parents is key.
Emma Beauchamp is a management degree apprentice at Gestamp Tallent, studying at Teesside University. She is telling her story as part of the #InspiringApprentices campaign