Job market / Work experience

Start your career as a Graduate Apprentice

Are you finding it hard to narrow down your career options, or worried you’re running out of time to find a permanent, graduate job? Then maybe you should start thinking about the Graduate Apprentice scheme, designed to offer capable grads the chance to work across diverse business sectors within a twelve month, structured (and salaried!) placement. Aston graduate Lauren Hornbuckle took the plunge in her final year and six months into her placement, reflects on her experience so far…

During my final year of university, I was struggling to juggle job applications and deadlines for coursework and exams PLUS a part-time job. Amongst all the time consuming applications I had done (often applying for things that I didn’t particularly want) I heard about the Graduate Apprentice scheme through a lecturer. It seemed like a great scheme for me – 3 placements around the city for a year (4 months in each place). I didn’t know exactly what job I wanted, plus if I could keep costs down by staying in the local area then it would be even better! I sent off my application and kept my fingers crossed, but never really expected to get a call back.

What makes the perfect ‘Graduate Apprentice’?

I found each stage nerve-wracking, but was kept updated by the recruiters at all times (something that I found other recruiters and employers didn’t do!) and made it through to the final stage where I needed to make an impact. When faced with a presentation about ‘what makes me the perfect Graduate Apprentice?’ I opted for a recipe – I only just stopped short of taking in ingredients! The judges loved it and I got offered the job, after a grilling by my future employers of course.

It’s been a great experience so far – staying in a city I know and love has been a nice constant in a year where everything is changing from one month to the next!

The business community in Birmingham really is second to none, I’ve felt very welcomed and have been involved in all sorts of activities – from joining committees to organising events. Birmingham Future, a membership organisation for young professionals, has been a great organisation to get involved in. Not only going to the events, but speaking at them and networking has been really valuable.

Gaining new skills…and confidence

I’ve learnt so much so far, mostly about how to manage my time. At university you get used to working to tight deadlines and doing everything as fast as you can, I took this attitude to work too but ended up burnt out within weeks and struggling to pace myself.

I’ve also learnt that networking really is key to success – I’ve seen my LinkedIn connections treble since September 2012! Being the Graduate Apprentice has done the awkward job of breaking the ice for me, as I often get recognised at events!

I’m already going through applications now for when I finish (September 2013) and am finding the process once again very daunting. It’s been a great conversation starter when talking to employers, which usually start with ‘congratulations, please tell me more…’

Looking to the future

As for the future, I’m job hunting now and hoping to move to London to join a start up company hopefully doing Marketing. Why? I’m told that London is the place to be to start your career, but I can now march into the big smoke with the knowledge that I have a year of valuable experience under my belt to compete against the surge of other graduates.

Who knows, maybe you’ll see me on BBC1 some time soon. 

Lauren_Hornbuckle_380  Lauren Hornbuckle, 2012 Graduate Apprentice

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