Meet Rhaea - What to do after school, Uni or an Apprenticeship?

‘I don’t know what I want to do’ is a common phrase spoken by college students when asked the question of what they want to study at university.

I was that student.

Even before college, when I was at school, picking my GCSE’s I had no idea what I wanted to do. I have always been a pretty indecisive person; I can’t even pick what I want to eat at a restaurant without having a coin tossing tournament between options to determine what I order, let alone picking what subject I want to study for the rest of my life. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal isn’t it?

When I was applying to universities there was very limited information on corporate apprenticeships, I barely had any idea that they even existed. Only after I’d applied to universities that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to, for courses that I didn’t actually find interesting, did I actually look into apprenticeships. Long story short, I didn’t get into a single one of my chosen Uni’s because I didn’t get the grades and I got offered two apprenticeships from a large insurance company and a finance company. To my parents absolute horror I rejected the apprenticeship offers and decided to go through clearing and got a place at Bournemouth University to study Business Studies. Everything had fallen into place I thought. But I was completely wrong.

After just a few weeks in at Bournemouth Uni I realised I’d made a big mistake. I persevered with the endless lectures and horrible feeling of regret until I’d been there a term and couldn’t bare it any longer. I realised how important it is to do something you actually care about and have an interest in over the infamous ‘Uni lifestyle’. I’m not going to lie, the friends I made and some of the nights out I had were great, but it wasn’t worth the debt I was in after just a term and the miserable, unmotivated, wouldn’t get out of bed until 2pm kind of person, that university led me to become.

To my parents horror (again) I dropped out of University and took a year out to re-evaluate my life. I had a close friend that was an apprentice for Vodafone and the first time they told me about it, I was sold. I researched the apprenticeship in depth to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into and that I wasn’t just going to ‘drop out’ of it like I did with Uni. I decided to apply and after a video interview and an assessment centre I was given the job!

I only realised the true benefits and value of an apprenticeship from my experience and I couldn’t be happier now. The main benefits I’d like to mention are:

The Pay
Let’s not beat around the bush here, the pay is incredibly good. When you think about the fact that you’re actually getting paid to do a degree and work for the company at the same time, instead of getting in almost 40k debt from Uni, it definitely seems too good to be true, but I can tell you it is true.

The Stability
This is something easily overlooked when starting an apprenticeship but it is probably one of the best reasons to choose an apprenticeship over university. I studied Business Studies at Bournemouth and only now do I realise how much competition there is in that degree. It is the most popular degree there is, meaning that once you’re finished it’s incredibly competitive and can be difficult to get a job. By doing an apprenticeship, the company is investing large amount of money in you by, not only paying for you to get a degree, but your salary as well. Although you aren’t guaranteed a job at the end of the apprenticeship, if you do well, let’s just say it’d be very silly for the company to invest all of that money for you to then go and take those skills and knowledge, which they’ve paid for you to obtain, to a competitor… What I’m saying is that you’re a hell of a lot more likely to get a full-time, permanent position with the company you’re doing an apprenticeship with after you complete the degree than if you just did the degree at university.

The Experience
Let’s say you’re a manager looking for someone new to join your team, you have two CV’s to choose from. Both have the same degree however one of them already has a minimum of 3 years’ experience in the field, which one do you choose? No brainer right? You’d obviously pick the one with the degree and experience. The phrase ‘get a head start in your career’ is often heard about apprenticeships, and yes it might be a bit cliché but it is so so true.

The Rewards & Opportunities
Apprenticeships are incredible in every sense but are also hard work; do not go into an apprenticeship thinking that you’re going to get paid 20k just to make teas and coffees because you won’t be. You’ll be doing real, proper 9-5 work just like everyone else in the company; the thing that makes you different is that you have a degree to work on on top of that. Although the work isn’t a walk in the park, it is incredibly rewarding. I’ve been at Vodafone for almost 6 months now and already I have joined the company’s share plan, raised 600 for charity and am, fingers crossed, about to have my first appraisal.

I’d like to end this post by saying, if you are really unsure about what to do when you leave college then don’t panic. It’s incredibly easy to let yourself freak out during this time but you shouldn’t. Even if it means you need to take a year out, like I ended up doing, to realise what you really want, don’t freak out. People might try to rush and pressure you into making a decision, whether it is your parents, your teachers, your friends, but as long as you make the end decision because it’s what you want to do it then that’s all that matters. I am a strong advocate for apprenticeships but at the end of the day they don’t suite everyone. If you’re want to work hard, gain amazing experience and a good salary then absolutely go for it, but if you’re more concerned about going out every single night and not getting up until 1pm each day then perhaps this isn’t for you. You really do have to be in it to win it, and I whole heartedly believe that if you give an apprenticeship your all then the opportunities are endless.

If you have any questions about becoming an apprentice then please drop us a message on our Vodafone Careers social media channels and I will be more than happy to answer them for you.

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