In March of this year, Sam, the Head of Social (and official office First Aider) of +24 Marketing uploaded a blog to our website about Apprenticeships vs University. It brought up lot of viable topics for discussion surrounding the debate of whether work and experience is better (or worse) for young people’s future, than degrees and another three years of staying “cocooned” in the hold of education.
The truth about universities, and traditional education in general, is that it’s not a fit for some people. Or, it’s a fit for them up until a certain point, or it’s something they grow to like, but find themselves falling behind in, after not finding traditional education engaging or fulfilling to start with. The fact of the matter is that everyone needs different things and different circumstances to be able to learn, and to be able to apply what they learn, because everyone is an individual.
In my first week as an apprentice, I found that at times I’d doubt myself and my judgement that I would learn better “on the job” rather than – what is essentially every young person’s only other choice – attending Uni. I speak now at the end of my first week with any prior anxieties about my decision relieved, having found that, while I may technically be “learning on the job”, being at +24 doesn’t feel like a job in the traditional way that we think about jobs.
Jobs are meant to be depressing and horrible, and every time you think about your impending commute to work on Monday morning, while you should instead be enjoying your Saturday lay-in-till-12pm, a little rain cloud spewing water, hissing lighting bolts and whipping up a Gale Force 27 tornado of misery, is supposed to descend over your head like a crown of anguish and despair. At my previous jobs (like many young people, I’ve been working in retail since I finished my GCSEs at age sixteen) my only relief from the dread I experienced both while at, and while thinking about work, was in my colleagues and my staff discounts – but even the combined force of nice people and saving money on make up often wasn’t enough to make me particularly happy about dragging myself to work, especially if it involved getting up early.
Being an apprentice has resulted in a shift in attitude of almost monumental proportions. Don’t get me wrong, waking up is still more painful than tap dancing on broken glass, but there’s a sense of what I wouldn’t hesitate to label excitement on the drive to work.
Monday morning was filled with being told what and who was where, and what exactly we (myself and another new apprentice, Elly) would be doing. The office is nice and spacious, and while I’ve been here many times before, the context of “this is my first day” and the accompanying nerves were present, but surprisingly didn’t make the office or the building appear evil and threatening like something out of a Shirley Jackson novel, ready to eat me alive. We spent our day interacting with as many people as possible on social media, with myself focusing solely on Twitter.
One thing I keep hearing here is the importance of interaction. As a consumer in a world where social media is integrated into most key points of our Ikea-boy/Ikea-girl lives, I know how much I love seeing companies pay attention to their customers online, and now having been the one to pay that attention to others, I know that I love both sides of that interaction. All in all, the first day was tiring, but completely wonderful, in the sense that I knew that +24 would be the kind of place I’d settle into nicely, and having another apprentice both my age and in my position certainly didn’t do any harm in soothing my anxieties.
After our apprenticeship induction on Tuesday via virtual classroom with our course provider, the ball really started rolling for Elly and I in the well-oiled machine that is +24 Marketing. The underlying first-week fear of messing everything up in every way that anything could ever go wrong, dissipated at around Thursday, which was coincidentally the first time I actually had a cup of tea, as I was too nervous before to get a brew – much to the amusement of the colleagues around me.
Over the past working week, I’ve come to a few quiet conclusions. Firstly being that, early mornings are, sadly, unavoidable in almost every sector of work.
My second conclusion is that +24 Marketing fits like it should. I can’t imagine this company and these people not “fitting” anyone, it feels fundamentally right, thus far, to be in an office where people work so hard and care about their work, while also able to have a laugh and a joke and help you whenever you need it. There’s no way to force this kind of atmosphere or how comfortable it makes you, it’s too genuine to be replicated in that way.
The final conclusion I’ve reached (because things always sound better in threes), is that apprenticeships are a viable option for young people. They shouldn’t just be treated as a default, second course of action, or a route exclusively for those looking for an in into the trades or childcare industry.
Nerves are natural, they show you care, even if it seems like a hyperbolic reaction to starting a job in a place you know well with people that you like. If you love what you do, or at least feel like that love is slowly creeping up on you, then nerves will turn to excitement, and anxious emotions will become a thing of the past (most of the time, at least). Traditional education and/or the university-centric route are not for everyone, but they don’t need to be.
After my first week at +24, I’ve gone from doubting my decisions and capability to feeling secure in the knowledge that this path is the correct one for me, becoming more excited than ever about this choice, and that our value should not and is not determined by our experiences within, or abilities in traditional education.