I chose to do an apprenticeship because the idea of 'earning and learning' appealed to me.
Name: Ella Wrench
Apprenticeship: Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
I had a place at University for a full-time course, but I wasn't completely set on what career path I wanted, so I decided the best thing to do would be to get experience. At Nielsen, we work day to day across functions, and we rotate our roles each year; this means that as apprentices, we get to understand the different departments in the company and see various ways of working. I also chose to do an apprenticeship because the idea of 'earning and learning' appealed to me. I love that my degree is funded, I'm gaining experience that I wouldn't get from University, and it's exciting to know that I'm guaranteed a relevant job at the end of my apprenticeship.
How did you find out about your apprenticeship?
I found out at a school event named 'Future Fest,' held at Lord Williams' School in Thame, Oxfordshire. I had remembered Nielsen offering apprenticeships the year before, so I returned to find out that they now did the Level 6 (Degree level) and spoke to an apprentice at the time who explained their experience. She gave me some information sources about requirements and how to apply and answered my questions.
What do you enjoy most about your Oxford Brookes academic course (at Abingdon and Witney College)?
It's nice to meet other people (students and apprentices) from other companies; it gives a good insight into other businesses and is interesting to have debates and understand their opinion on different subjects. I also love the lecturers- they're enthusiastic and willing to help, and it's easier to gain the support in a smaller lecture environment. Finally, the majority of our course is based on coursework rather than exams. This gives students the chance to draft up an assignment and gain feedback to ensure they achieve the best grade, rather than stressing over exam pressure!
What do you think are the challenges and benefits of combining work and study through an apprenticeship?
The main benefit to me is that I can apply what I do in my daily role (within a commercial team) to debates at University, as well as in my assignments. It's useful to give real-life examples throughout my writing, as they add value and depth to my assignments. I also like that I've met some great friends- within Nielsen, there's 10 other Level 6 apprentices, so we get to form social relationships at work and at University. Time management is definitely the most difficult thing- effectively, you're studying a full-time degree squeezed into one day, and a full-time job 4 days a week. At Nielsen, we're given 4 hours within our working week (Mon-Fri) for University Study, and we're expected to do the same at home. The first few months were difficult to balance time, but after a few more months it becomes quite natural and we now know how much time things can take.
Can you give an example of where your learning through your apprenticeship has had a positive impact on your role at work?
The 'Business and Management Concepts' module helped me to understand where my manager could improve, and therefore allowed me to give him feedback about his approach in my first few months. The 'Accounting for Business' module helped me build on my knowledge, which is useful when I deal with monetary values and contracts every day; it was good to understand the different requirements, and simplified ways of working out different figures. The 'Personal Development' module was useful to step up from school level to the working world! It helped me become more professional both for Uni and work; including etiquette and the right ways to structure assignments and emails to clients.
What are your career/development plans once you have completed your apprenticeship?
Depending on what role I have enjoyed the most during my apprenticeship, I will go for a job doing that within Nielsen. I'm currently based in Oxford, but I'd also be interested in working and living in London for them, possibly in the Marketing Effectiveness department to really understand what drives consumer buying patterns.