Hello, I Am Doug
I didn’t want to leave university with loads of debt to then wait longer for the jobs I wanted due to lack of experience.
Tell us more about your experience
My role changes regularly and no day is ever the same - each project brings new challenges. Currently, I manage the Commercial Readiness operations which include projects such as ‘Go To Market, Financial Operations’ for a new Vodafone Business UC Product. We manage projects following the Scaled Agile Framework. This means my role includes leading breakout rooms in quarterly ‘PI Planning’ events, acting as a Scrum Master during active ‘sprints’, risk mitigation, stakeholder engagement, and governance compliance processes.
Vodafone offers loads of external initiatives alongside the day job. One of the most exciting I’ve been involved in was a youth project to encourage greater customer loyalty. I led a team of three graduates to develop a software tool that automatically processes our customer’s data to give loyalty scores. These scores could then be used to tell our Global Account Managers quickly and easily what they need to keep our customers happy! My proudest moment was when I was awarded two Vodafone Star awards in my first year at the company. One was for winning the Youth Project, and the other for meeting all my quarterly goals on top of my external work.
“I wanted to pursue an apprenticeship as I didn’t want to spend three or four years in full-time education.”
I didn’t want to leave university with loads of debt to then wait longer for the jobs I wanted due to lack of experience. I also didn’t want to keep working in retail anymore to just scrape by financially – an apprenticeship mitigated all of these issues for me! So, my words of advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship would be to just do it. Apply to all the apprenticeship opportunities that you could see yourself doing for a few years.
Real work experience is regarded highly and teaches you some invaluable life skills. You can still have all the fun ‘uni experiences’ with your youth colleagues (like other apprentices, grads and industrial placements) and you might even end up with more money to spend! You can even still get a degree from a good university.
The only reason not to do one is if you’re not feeling ready to join the working world. My strategy would be to apply for university and apprenticeships alongside each other. If you manage to get apprenticeship offers you can defer your place at uni so if it’s too much or you’re not ready, it’s only for a year and you can still have a place at university waiting.
“I forgot I even had the university place as I was enjoying my apprenticeship so much! Needless to say, I withdrew from my place at uni and I have no regrets.”
But my experience has had some complications. At the beginning of Year 13, I did a work placement with a design engineering company close to where I lived – I originally based my A Levels on becoming an engineer. After the week they were impressed with my work and verbally offered me an apprenticeship and would send over an official offer down the line. However, they later emailed me saying that they could not afford to take on any apprentices. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do. Luckily some of my teachers could offer some advice.
I already had a university offer, but knew an apprenticeship was better for me. I went on every website I could find to apply for any available apprenticeships that I thought looked interesting. I tracked nearly 30 applications for months – some of them for companies like Amazon, UBS and Vodafone. Though Vodafone initially turned me down, they later called me to apologise and offered me the job and here I am!
“After being here for a year I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Vodafone has plenty of support networks in place for anything I need – there are youth leads who are always helpful, a youth committee, my line manager and any of my colleagues. If I ever have a problem, I know that they can help me. My training providers also provide a skills coach and my lecturers have helped me with any issues I’ve had with my uni work.
My plan for the end of my apprenticeship is to look for roles in a new industry that interest me. Hopefully, I'll also have a role at Vodafone in case I can’t find anything. Ideally, I would love to continue with Vodafone as a Project Manager, maybe with my own apprentice to mentor!
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