It’s national apprenticeship week! This year’s theme is aimed to help raise awareness about how apprenticeships work. We’re very proud to support the scheme and currently employ two apprentices who are an absolute integral part of our team.
Our regular customers are probably very well acquainted with the two of them. Sydney lee studies Business Administration at Havant & Southdown’s College, she’s worked at Polymax for almost a year now. We also have Lewis Mockford who is 9 months into his Digital Marketing apprenticeship though Portsmouth Highbury College.
To celebrate their success with us we thought we’d give them platform to speak about their experience as an apprentice and what it’s like working at Polymax HQ.
Why did you originally choose to do an apprenticeship?
L: A massive factor was university fees, but I also wanted to work and earn money.
S: I was fed up of sitting in a classroom and learning whilst not actively doing something. Although I was worried about taking on an apprenticeship because of the stories you hear about companies exploiting young people and not paying them a fair wage for their work.
How does your apprenticeship work?
S: My apprenticeship is coursework and portfolio based. I study once a week at college and my tutor comes into the office every 6 weeks. They go through an online portal with me to keep track of how my course is progressing and speak with my managers to ensure everything is running smoothly. When I started the scheme, I was able to have control about what I wanted to learn. With the management at Polymax aligning the curriculum to the business. It is quite flexible and adaptable to my work, so if there’s something I become interested in I can learn about it.
L: I joined with a newer form of the apprenticeship scheme, so I have exams as well as portfolio work. Instead of going to college, my course is accessed through a remote class. One week a month I log into a webinar and join my tutor’s lectures, I can interact with him using an instant messenger. The actual class takes place in Birmingham, miles away from here!
What do you find satisfying about your work?
S: I’m really proud about how much I have learnt to use Magento, which is the E-commerce platform our website uses. Our set up is especially complicated to learn due to the technical nature of our products and the amount of stock we have online. I’ve also really enjoyed carrying out personal projects within the company, such as researching and bringing new products to market.
L: I feel that I’m actually a lot better organised and that’s just helpful all round. In general, we are both more computer savvy. I wasn’t expecting to be so clued in about coding and programming. My course is very digitally focused, so it’s good to be able to actually test out what I’ve learnt in class through Linux using HTML & CSS programming.
What skills have you learnt?
S: I think having the experience of working in an office environment has been really useful. From little things like verbal communication skills, how you should articulate clearly and how it’s important to go to great lengths to help our customers.
L: I know I’ve already mentioned this but organisation and knowing how you should prioritise work to get things done. Even just taking notes whilst speaking with somebody over the phone, especially with the kind of specialised information our customers give us. That can be useful with email chains too, ensuring you stay clear in all communications.
Do you feel set up to succeed and continue with your chosen career?
S: I do feel more set up for whatever path I choose next. There is so much pressure on young people, when I left my A Levels I was told I was making a mistake, so it’s satisfying to see how much I’ve learnt during my time here.
L: We both had no idea what we wanted to do. It’s a lot to expect young people to have their lives planned out at 18. Whether you choose to work full time or study It’s just finding the balance. I now feel I have the skills to succeed and progress my career.
So that’s a wrap, a massive thank you to Sydney and Lewis for sharing their #NAW2018 experience with us. Polymax are currently looking for more apprentices to join our team. Give us a call on 01420 474123 to have a chat and find out more.