Apprenticeships 3 min read

Degree Apprenticeships: Expectations vs Reality

Holly Garrett posted on

When I first accepted my offer onto the Rotational Degree Apprenticeship run by Pearson College London, I was a little apprehensive and the first thought that came into my head was:

"This is going to be a lot of work"

Two years in and having just entered my third and final year, I can now look back and say with complete honesty, every experience I have had so far has surpassed all my expectations (positive and negative) and it was a decision I do not regret…

When I was accepted into my degree apprenticeship I knew that it was an amazing opportunity for me, however I couldn’t help but feel like I was taking a risk. The stereotypical societal opinion of apprenticeships is traditionally a lesser, second class option to university; this therefore filled me with nervousness about what was to come. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In the last two years I have had the opportunity to work within three amazing companies: Tesco, IBM and Pearson College London (Pearson plc). The tasks I have been given throughout my placements have definitely not felt like 'a second class option.' My tasks have included managing Tesco’s Twitter page, creating print brochures, managing budgets, and project managing a website redesign. They have all been invaluable, providing me with the opportunity to grow in confidence and gain new knowledge and skills, all whilst providing me with well-rounded experience in many business areas.
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I knew from the offset that balancing work and a degree would be tough. My weeks are split with me working four days at my placement company; then catching up on lectures and course work in the evening; and one day a week at university attending seminars. Whilst I can’t lie and say it’s easy, I can tell you that it is definitely manageable, as long as you are organised and disciplined. Managing the workload is also made a lot easier by the great support networks that I have both at my university and my company. I have a personal tutor and a professional mentor who I can approach with any issues or questions. Additionally, my managers all understand the pressures I am under, especially around deadline times and are therefore understanding with flexing my workload and offering any support that they can. For example, additional study leave to spend time on my coursework and revision.

On the other hand, the social elements of the workplace were a complete mystery. I found myself worrying about being much younger and inexperienced than everyone else, and asked myself questions such as “Would I be looked down upon?” However, in reality this is the complete opposite. In every placement I have had, there has been a great community of other apprentices, graduates and interns who have welcomed me into friendly teams that are great fun to work in. There was no need to worry about being inexperienced as everyone is always supportive and keen to help me learn. Similarly, through studying with other students on a Friday I have made a great group of friends who are now friends for life.

My degree apprenticeship journey, like any traditional degree or job has been made up of highs and lows, but overall I have absolutely loved it and I have no regrets about choosing a degree apprenticeship over a traditional university route. Yes it has been hard work, but I have been lucky enough to gain a degree with no debt, gained great business experience in three FTSE 100 companies and I’ve made some friends for life.

To apply for a degree apprenticeship programme, please visit our website.

Degree Apprenticeships: Expectations vs Reality
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