When I was in school, all of my teachers bombarded me with information about university and which ones I should be applying to and why and what would make me happy and what I could do with my degree and all the rest of that spiel. There was article after article written by uni students telling me the reality of their situation; but uni just didn’t appeal to me. I knew I wanted to do an apprenticeship, but I didn’t really know much of the reality of it. No one was writing advice articles aside from some grownups who were comparing uni and apprenticeships. I couldn’t really find any relating to an apprentices experience, so here’s one for anyone who is considering this as an option or anyone who wants to know what it’s like.
It’s been nearly 5 months since I started my engineering apprenticeship now, and 7 months since I finished school. It’s been a very new experience, that’s for sure. The structure of my apprenticeship is pretty much what I thought it was going to be. I work 4 days a week 8.15-4:45 (an hour for lunch), and I spend 1 day a week going to college, where my course is paid for by my employer. I’m very fortunate with regards to the fact that my course isn’t too intense, and I don’t have to spend hours upon hours after work working on college coursework. I’ll still get a degree, but it’s going to take me 5 years to get mine instead of the 3 it’ll take everyone who g
oes straight through uni. I’m doing 2 years in college where I study a HNC and then I’ll spend 3 years doing day release to a uni. I’m won’t be going to a Russell group, because I need the day release (I’ll probably be going to UWE). I can’t do a full week, but I like to think my experience will be an advantage in the future.
In work, I have my own desk and I work on projects the same as everyone else. I get given tasks to carry out that are at my skill level. I go to meetings to observe how the design process works. I’m not expected to talk in these meetings but I can if I choose to. I have a trainer who guides me through my course and who I can go to with any queries. It is a great way of learning, and I do really enjoy my job.
Now for maybe the not so glamorous side of things. I still live at home (I’m saving for a deposit on a house and I feel like renting is just throwing away money that I could be saving). I live an hour and a bit train ride from work which I do every morning and evening. Because of the way traffic works in a big city, even if I lived 10 miles closer, (or in some cases 20), it wouldn’t take much time off my journey because of where the trains pass through and how the traffic is. So every morning I get up and I do a 1.25 hour journey. It’s tiring.
I’ve gone from being a school girl who was out of the house for 8.5 hours for school (including travel), to a woman (??? I guess) who is out of the house from 7 until 6. It was a shock to the system and it is difficult. I still don’t really think I’m adjusted to it yet, and I only do it 4 days a week (my college course is on a monday and starts at 1).
It leaves me with a lot less time. Compared to when I was in school, I have 12.5 hours less free time a week. That’s a lot of time lost, and I suppose that isn’t going to change. I also have a lot less holiday time. In school, I used to get 13 weeks (or 65 days), a year off. Now I get 30 days, which I know is more than what a lot of other people get, but it is a substantial decrease when I look at it, but I value my time off a lot more now, and I don’t let it go to waste like I used to when I was in school.
The money aspect is really cool. Even though I have a lot less spare time, I can now fill my spare time with stuff I really have to do. I can save money every month towards a house, while also paying for holidays, concert tickets and other nice things. I don’t have to wait and save for a long time to buy the things I really want, I can just buy them as and when I want.
I feel like I’m under a lot less pressure than those people who went to uni. My course isn’t too demanding and my employer understands that I have coursework to do, and I’m allowed time to do that in work. In the weeks that college is closed, I can still use the Monday to catch up on college assignments and sleep.
I think that this was the right choice for me. What did you do? Are you still deciding or have you chosen and started uni or something else? Let me know about your experience in the comments, because I think it’s good to talk about our options. Also if you have any question, please feel free to ask
Thanks for reading