My name is India Cookson. I am 22 and I am from Southampton.
I am currently training on a level 2 customer service practitioner apprenticeship with the cultural services department in Southampton City Council. I have been doing this for almost four months.
I first found out about this apprenticeship when I was looking for jobs after completing my degree. I was looking at my options, and had applied for a couple of master's programmes, when I saw this position was available. As I was looking to work in museums, I felt that the role and course suited me.
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When I was at school, I knew about apprenticeships. However, they were not something that was recommended to me. I had not thought about this route much since, as I had gone to college and then university. It wasn’t until after I graduated and was looking for a job to start my career that I explored apprenticeships properly.
I wasn’t fully aware of what to expect as I didn't know anyone who had done an apprenticeship. I thought I would spend roughly half my time at the college and the other half at work, with quite a lot of formal learning.
I was pleasantly surprised, as I have no formal lessons and do not have to go to the partnership college for meetings with my training provider. I find that the job is far more hands-on and practical, meaning I get to do more in my role than I expected. The learning I am doing is also far more tailored, as I work on a one-to-one basis with the training provider.
Overall, I would say that this apprenticeship has exceeded my expectations.
I work as part of the front-of-house team for cultural services. In my role, I work face-to-face with customers at our venues, processing their entrances, answering queries, monitoring exhibitions and galleries, and handling money.
I like my work very much. I enjoy the role itself, as well as the people I work with. I also enjoy getting to work with other departments, as it not only gives me variation but also lets me see how other departments work and what is involved in their roles. In particular, I enjoy the interactions with people from different walks of life.
I feel that I am definitely supported by my line manager and the other duty managers. I have found that, when I need something for my apprenticeship, everyone helps me in any way they can. I also feel this with both my direct colleagues and other departments.
Having done a degree and an apprenticeship, I feel that they are very different experiences. University was far more formal and structured in terms of the lessons and assessments, whereas this apprenticeship is far more practical and work-orientated. I have found that a lot of the professional skills I learned at university were applicable to my current role, alongside my previous work experience. I feel that both my time at university and my apprenticeship have been very valuable and worthwhile experiences for me.
All my family and friends were very supportive of my apprenticeship and encouraged me to do it.
I am undecided on what to do immediately after I complete my apprenticeship. I have left it open so I can see how I feel and what opportunities arise.
In 10 years' time, I would like to be settled in my chosen career, hopefully moving my way up the ladder in the museums or cultural services sector. However, I am still figuring out what departments I may be interested in.
An apprenticeship is a great opportunity for a wide range of people, not just for people leaving school but for anyone looking to start a career in a new industry.