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Finding your way in your career: It never gets easier, you just get better – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

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Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor
Fiona Tatton

National Apprenticeship Week: 14th – 18th March 2016

Hello and welcome to issue 51, our Apprenticeship Week celebration. Here at Womanthology it’s all about becoming the best that you can be and we’ve never been fans of the conventional,  so it seemed like the ideal time to look at new and innovative ways to learn, where hard work and planning should mean that you find you way to a successful and rewarding career.

It’s been a political objective to increase apprenticeships in recent years, although as ever, change isn’t always easy or straightforward. Alongside massive investment into apprenticeships, there’s also been reform, and, it would be fair to say, quite a lot of confusion too.

The apprenticeship career maze simplified

Fortunately we’ve called in some experts to help. We’ve got Becky Plant from Capp guiding us through the maze of information. She helps us get our heads around where the opportunities exist and what to look for as a potential apprentice in search of opportunities. How do you guage ‘quality’? She also provides information for employers contemplating a scheme. (Let me tell you, Becky loves her job – I was chatting to her last thing on a Friday and there was no hint of waning enthusiam or weariness. How great is it when you meet people like that?!)

I also managed to track down marketing dynamo, Katrina Cliffe, who started out as a humble apprentice working in marketing and communications, but who’s now built up her own communications company, KC Communications, and who is now a leader of her local business community. Katrina is passionate about giving back by supporting apprentices herself and she shares her advice for small to medium sized businesses who want to make contact with the most enthusiastic apprenticeship talent through local colleges. Her tips for using social media to help as part of your strategy are inspired. As in so many other areas today, if you want to get ahead, get social…

Lose the gender stereotypes

We also hear from longtime friend of Womanthology, the lovely Claire Young, formerly of TV’s The Apprentice, but now another highly successful entrepreneur in her own right. She’s a youth champion and she’s had enough of gender stereotypes in careers, and so have we! So let’s lose these…

It seems that, as in any professional area, information is power. The term ‘apprenticeship’ is currently broad, but soon to be narrowed down, and so it’s essential to ask the ‘right’ questions to make sure you’re getting the very best deal.

In this issue we also speak to kick-ass female apprentices who are currently earning and learning, and those who have finished their apprenticeships recently. They evaluated all the options and decided that blended work and study was best for them.

No easy route

An apprenticeship is by no means an ‘easy’ route. All the apprentices I’ve spoken to have a busy schedule, and study is very much viewed as a priviledge rather than a right.

As university tuition fees have increased as funding of higher education has been reduced, the most obvious selling point for apprenticeships is that there’s no accumulated debt to be worried about for future years. Indeed some of the apprentices I’ve spoken to have been able to buy their own home whilst they work their way through the programmes.

No fear of taking the wrong path

In addition to the financial security there’s no fear of going down the wrong path and making a mistake because you already know exactly what you’re signing up to in your future career, and as Hanna Buckingham from TfL rightly points out, “…It’s just as important to decide you don’t want to do something as it is to decide you do want to do something…” I couldn’t have put it better myself as someone has has experimented in several careers. It is arguably dependent on your own personal learning style, but according to Honey & Mumford, activists prefer to learn by doing and experiencing.

The structured nature of an apprenticeship means not only that apprentices are forced to adopt a ‘growth’ mindset – “It never gets easier, you just get better.” Over and above that you’re compelled to take a longer term, structured view.

Whichever way you look at it though, knowledge is power when it comes to finding your way in your career so never stop asking questions.

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