Joining an apprenticeship is a great way to begin growing a new career as it helps you gain skills and experience that set you up for the future. Our Customer Representative Apprenticeship offers the first steps to becoming a qualified insurance professional in a welcoming, supportive and inclusive environment that will enable you to progress and do your best work. In this week’s blog, Neha and Olivia share what their own apprenticeships have meant to them and give an insight into what our new apprentices can expect to achieve from this opportunity.
With over ten years of experience in the call centre industry, I worked my way up from a Customer Representative to a Team Leader. I have been very lucky in my time at Hastings to have progressed across departments and develop in my role, but this is something that is an opportunity for all.
The reason why I chose to do an apprenticeship was to learn and develop my knowledge further, even though I had the experience, and I learnt a phenomenal amount about what it takes to be a good leader. When I became a new leader, it felt like I got thrown into the deep end with no previous experience of leading people. The apprenticeship taught me the best way to lead my team, types of communication and what I can do to bring out the best of them. It also gave me a good understanding of many areas such as types of coaching, learning styles, leadership styles, time management and how to recognise and support people to develop themselves as well.
The apprenticeship will give you an opportunity to be creative and helps enhance your knowledge in an area you perhaps felt was a weakness. It will challenge you; I had a lot of deadlines and essays to complete for the modules, along with bi-weekly or monthly sessions with my tutor who assessed me on my learning. This was all during a full time job and managing a team. I had the support of my manager to have a study day during my working week, so that I could be on track and complete my apprenticeship. If you are organised, create a plan and stick to it from the start, then this will really help you during the course. Whilst completing two apprenticeship courses back-to-back, I was lucky to also have colleagues who had completed the apprenticeships before me and they shared their experiences and supported me where I felt I needed some guidance.
An apprenticeship can also be for someone with either limited or no prior knowledge in any field, but who wants to aspire and step into the role. Being able to start from low or no experience and be given appropriate opportunities to develop in a new industry is a great way of understanding how to become better in that field. I now want to progress towards becoming a contact centre leader and I have applied for another apprenticeship course. This will give me an insight into managing budgets, controlling expenditure, and how to identify service or organisational improvements, opportunities for innovation or growth and developing strategy and plans.
When I first applied for my apprenticeship, I did it because I thought it would look great on my CV and I might learn a few new things and brush up on my leadership skills. What I actually found when doing the apprenticeship was it required a lot of hard work and was really rewarding.
Not only did I learn learning styles and methods I’d never heard of before, but I started to recognise what areas I needed to develop for my day-to-day role. The apprenticeship aided my self-reflection, showed me the impact your approach can have on those around you, as well as giving a keen insight into leadership.
The apprenticeship programme requires you to be organised and dedicated – it’s 20% of your time dedicated to learning, writing reports, doing research and attending webinars. It sounds like a lot of time, but if you’re not focused, the time soon slips away. You have to have the ability to manage yourself to ensure you meet your deadlines, stay on track and meet the right standard in order to pass. The support you’ll have is amazing but it’s down to you to ensure you complete the work and pass.
I have always genuinely enjoyed learning and evidencing what I have learnt through essays and reports, and there is a lot of this involved in an apprenticeship. If you didn’t enjoy this during your educational years, it’s not to say that an apprenticeship isn’t for you – but it’s worth bearing in mind that there are exams and write ups and you must be able to articulate yourself on paper.
The apprenticeship has been more valuable to me than I imagined. I was really proud to have achieved a distinction and pass it first time but it wasn’t easy. Balancing your normal workload whilst studying and meeting deadlines is not something that should be taken lightly, but it’s doable if you stay organised.
If you want to learn new skills, develop and challenge yourself, then an opportunity like Hastings’ Customer Representative Apprenticeship is the one for you. It will force you to manage your time efficiently, help you within the role you are currently in, and in some cases bridge the gap to achieve that next step up the career ladder.
Join us: If you’d like to join an apprenticeship to grow your careers at Hastings Direct, find out more about our Customer Representative Apprenticeship – recruiting now! Other roles are also available.
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