Changing perceptions: From Uni to doing an Apprenticeship.

An Interview with Cheyanne Hawkins, School Leaver from Lambeth Academy in London.

Hey Cheyanne, thanks for talking to us today, can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

My interests are varied! I enjoy crafting, reading. I also studied sociology, this is due to the fact that I enjoy talking to people, learn by talking to people rather than reading a textbook. I’m about to start a Pensions Consulting Apprenticeship at Aon. I’m mostly dealing with clients between different areas of Aon, based in Epson.

At school, at what point did you realise you wanted to do an apprenticeship?

I always thought I was going to go to Uni, I got to year 13 and realised I wasn’t really sure because I wasn’t sure I was going to learn as much at Uni.

I learn better through experience and talking to people so I thought I might as well give an apprenticeship a try.

When did you first hear about the opportunity?

I heard about it through uptree, who work with my school, they told me about the Aon insight, during February half term, and so I signed up to see what it’s like. At the insight (the opportunity was run by uptree charity partner Spiral Skills), I thought oh wow this looks really great and this looks like something I could actually do.

Other apprenticeships didn’t seem that great in comparison, over the course of the week I was like yep I’m doing this!

What made it sound interesting to you?

Aon was very hands on, they’ll help with anything you need help with. They have a buddy system and they’ve offered so many benefits like a pension scheme. I felt a lot safer doing this apprenticeship because of the longevity of the programme and also the salary they offer.

Did your perception on apprenticeships change then?

Up until year 13, teachers downplayed apprenticeships. They said you would be selling yourself short if you went for one. I’m the only person from my whole school who went for an apprenticeship and teachers were saying that I wasn’t going to be able to get accepted. My perception changed after the insight week, it was a great way to become confident, learn and meet people. Apprenticeships are for people who may learn in a more practical way.

It wasn’t until I told my teachers that I was offered a place on the apprenticeship at Aon and showed them the offices and the people that worked there, that my teachers perception of apprenticeships changed. After they saw I could achieve it, they said, wow congrats we’re so proud of you!

What are you looking forward to most?

Being in a working environment where I’m learning what I genuinely need to build my career. With an apprenticeship you can learn what you actually need for the real working world.

What are your peers / friends doing next year?

A lot are going to uni, doing gap years or not planning to go uni at all. Towards the middle of year 13 a lot of people just gave up on going to uni. They didn’t feel like uni was for them. About a quarter of people are not sure.

How can we help more young people to better understand the different career options after school?

I think the best way is by going to schools and perhaps getting actual apprentices to come in and speak. Hearing it from someone else who isn’t that much older may change your perception and telling them uni isn’t the only thing they can do. Letting young people know they should sign up for a few apprenticeship so they can have more options when they leave school.

My school wants me to come in next term and talk about my apprenticeship to the new Year 13, the careers teacher was very enthusiastic and wants me to encourage the other students to apply too.

Thanks so much Cheyanne, it was great speaking to you and we wish you the best of luck for your apprenticeship!

Thank you. I’m really glad that apprenticeships exist, I can’t wait to start mine!