AAT apprentice: you’re hired

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Sophie Dobbins has been an apprentice at AAT for five months. Here she talks about her decision to apply for an apprenticeship, and describes what she has learnt already

I was struggling a little with my A levels when I was at college and I’d lost motivation. I was looking for advice on other career paths but it was hard to know where to look.

Naturally a lot of my friends were going to university, but I couldn’t think of a subject I wanted to learn that thoroughly for three years and I didn’t want to feel burdened by debt hanging over my head once I’d graduated.

I’d heard about apprenticeships opportunities not through my college, but through my youth club, and I was drawn to the idea of working and training at the same time.

When AAT came to my college to talk about their apprenticeship programme I knew little about them. However it was great to hear about an apprenticeship route into a profession, rather than a trade based occupation. I also knew it would be beneficial to train and work as well as getting an NVQ in Business Administration under my belt.

The interview process wasn’t easy and I had to take part in a group interview, individual interview as well as doing a maths, English and psychometric test. It was daunting but I understand why employers need robust interview processes in place and it also allowed me to learn more about the organisation.  AAT is a membership body with a strong customer focus sitting at the core of what they do and I was intrigued to learn more.

I’ve been an apprentice for five months and I’ve learnt so much from being in a busy working environment. I’ve been able to experience working in different teams such as marketing, IT and finance. It’s been a great learning curve for me to know what areas of work I like and am good at, as well as getting a firmer understanding of areas of work which don’t suit my skill set. I’ve already got direction and have loved working in marketing and communication.

It’s a huge benefit to directly apply the knowledge I’m gaining from my NVQ to the work I do in the office. It means I’m continually developing and building up confidence and can add more value as my apprenticeship progresses.

I would be lying if I said it was all plain sailing. Sometimes I can feel a little overwhelmed as it can be hard studying and working at the same time. I do have a mentor at AAT that I see a couple of times a month. I also have an assessor from my training provider Kaplan who I meet every three weeks and my assessor helps me with study support as well as getting me prepared for the end of year exam.

I’ll never regret my choice to do an apprenticeship. I’m lucky to be in work. I’m reminded all the time how bleak the situation is with youth unemployment at an all-time high. There are so many graduates that are looking for work that I feel an apprenticeship is a good alternative option for young people unsure what to do or what career they want to go into.

Sophie Dobbins has qualified as an AAT apprentice.

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