Hello, I Am Natasha
I always knew I wanted to do an apprenticeship when I left sixth form as I wanted to be financially independent while learning and be able to attain the same qualification I could at University and have a potential job opportunity at the end of the apprenticeship rather than going to University and getting the qualifications with probably limited connections in terms of job opportunities and also the debt that comes with it. To be totally transparent, initially when I left sixth form, I didn’t apply for any degree level apprenticeships as it seemed slightly out of my reach. I doubted that I would fit in with a corporate work setting or cope with the workload that could come with it. Since joining AQA I’ve had nothing but support from all over the organisation, AQA are passionate about making sure every colleague succeeds and it’s so apparent through their friendly work culture.
Tell us more about your experience
What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy having a good laugh with my family and friends, travelling and reading.
Can you describe your job and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
During my apprenticeship at AQA I have currently been working 80% on the job and 20% focusing on my coursework. I have split this into 4 days working and 1 day focused on my APM qualification. On a day-to-day basis my responsibilities can vary depending on what’s needed, this has been so beneficial for my development as it has meant my exposure to different tasks and areas of business have been extremely diverse. To date my responsibilities have been varied from working with executive assistants to work out people’s availability and set up meetings to compiling packs which explain the entire portfolio with my business area. I have had the opportunity to meet most of the executive members on the board and even the CEO himself which was a great opportunity for me to get to know them and their passion for what AQA stands for while even asking some questions. Sometimes my day-to-day can be travelling to my local office which is in Manchester or commuting to events/workshops which often take place down in London.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far has got to be the number of opportunities that I’ve been able to take advantage of in such a small time. Within AQA they run a programme called Unlocking potential which focusses on helping students aged 11-17 who’s teachers have recognise some potential however there is blockers which may be stopping them from achieving as much as they can. It’s so inspiring to see the transformation in these individuals over such a small period of time and really shows the impact some recognition, time and attention can have on a young person’s personality and outlook. Previous to starting this apprenticeship I had never been to London; I’ve only been with AQA 9 months, and I’ve been asked to go down to London for various event/workshops around 5 times and due to the distance between my home address and these events in London most of them have been overnight stays! This has had such a positive impact on my confidence when it comes to independent travel in large cities.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
The biggest challenge of my career has to be the beginning of the apprenticeship when everything was so new, and I literally knew nothing in terms of the theory around project management. Being able to move on from doubting myself and offering my opinion/ideas in large groups including people with so much experience was extremely challenging and is still something I work on now!
What sort of support network do you have at your company?
Within AQA the support is actually overwhelming. When I was just starting my apprenticeship, I set up 1:1 meeting with each member of my team to get to know them better, which I would definitely recommend doing. Every single person was so lovely and offered their support if I ever needed it, there have been people that I go to for help all the time and they all always have such patience and time for me. They really understand at AQA how to make people feel welcomed and supported within their role, as previously mentioned I have had the opportunity to meet and speak to the executive members at AQA and all of them offered to give up time for support/questions if us apprentices ever need it which is really appreciated as I know this isn’t the case at other companies.
What will happen at the end of your apprenticeship, and have you discussed this with your employer?
By the end of my apprenticeship, I hope to come out with my APM level 4 qualification, a wide network within AQA and hopefully a permanent role within my team. I know that at AQA there are more opportunities in terms of other qualifications or moving to different areas of the business. From speaking to the previous year of apprentices/graduates, the end of apprenticeship opportunities seem promising.
What would be your words of advice to someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?
My advice for anyone who has any inclination towards an apprenticeship is to go for it even if that just means applying and taking it from there. Don’t feel that anything is out of your reach, if you have what’s specified in the job requirements… you apply. Do some research into the actual qualification you would be completing and the company itself, research to see if there are any previous or current apprentices who are at the company, you're applying for who have shared their story online. Having a good work environment is crucial in my opinion to success and your overall happiness at the end of the day.