At IVE we believe strongly in the value of apprenticeships and other vocational training. Many of our staff started at IVE as apprentices and one, Lisa Ibbetson, has been with us for nearly 6 years now.
We spoke with Lisa about why she opted for an apprenticeship and her experiences with them.
Hi Lisa, can you start by introducing yourself to everyone please?
Hello, my name is Lisa Ibbetson I am 22 and have been working for IVE for nearly 6 years. I started working here as a Business Administration Apprentice (level 2) when I was 17 and I came straight from school with very little work experience.
I had worked in retail for a short time and didn’t enjoy it at all so I was nervous when starting my apprenticeship of what an office environment would be like. I was really surprised at how supportive everyone was, I found everyone took time to help me learn new skills and were all patient with me when I didn’t understand something. I feel like I picked the work up fairly easy and soon got into a routine and felt part of the team.
After completing my apprenticeship I was delighted to be offered a permanent position as a junior administrator, then quickly progressed to a project administrator and for the last 2 years I have been IVE’s executive assistant.
I have also recently completed a level 4 NVQ in Business Administration.
What made you go down the apprenticeship route rather than going to university?
I have never been interested in going to university, I never wanted to be in education for that length of time and didn’t feel getting a degree was essential to have a good career. I always found it difficult learning from reading textbooks and studying, I always found learning so much easier on the job. I did consider going to college but I never really knew what career I wanted to have and this made selecting a course really difficult.
After leaving school I started working at Next as a Sales Consultant to be able to earn some money but soon realised that wasn’t the career path I wanted to take. I also completed part of an NVQ in child care, I completed all the written work but wasn’t able to find a placement in Leeds to complete the practical work and because the NVQ wasn’t completed with a certain timeframe it was no longer valid.
After that I decided to do some research on different jobs roles, I found that all organisations needed administrators so I decided doing an apprenticeship in Business Administration would give me more career options. I knew from working in retail I didn’t want a customer facing role and thought I would be better suited to an office environment. I have always enjoyed organising, planning and making sure everything is in order so I thought being an administrator is a job I could do well and would enjoy.
How did you find your apprenticeship?
I found my apprenticeship on www.apprenticeships.gov.uk and had to complete an online application form. I then had to go for an interview with the apprenticeship provider where they gave me interview advice and told me about the employer and then I had my interview with IVE. My assessor from the training provider would come into the office and visit me on a monthly basis to give me support and set more work, they were really supportive and often contacted my email and phone to check up on me.
When I first started my apprenticeship I was really nervous and unsure, I was really shy and had no previous office experience, I found this quite intimidating being surrounded by people who were really intelligent and all had degrees. Although this didn’t last long as the team were all really lovely, supportive and patient with me.
I really enjoyed my apprenticeship throughout and was learning something new every day, it felt really rewarding after a few months into my apprenticeship when people were asking me questions and giving me more responsibilities, such as asking me to attend events to support them instead of just doing the printing for the delegate packs. At first I found it challenging to prioritise my work and NVQ deadlines but I had a really supportive manager and NVQ assessor that helped me figure that out.
On an average day I would answer the phones, deal with incoming and outgoing post, meet and greet people ensuring they were warmly greeted and a drink offered, prepare for meetings and input data onto our system by adding new contacts, organisations and logging which attendees had been to our events. There were always new things that popped up that I was able to get involved with.
How did you personally push your progression?
I feel I pushed my progression by trying to get involved in as many things as I could, I wanted to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible during my apprenticeship so I took the opportunities that were offered to me. I also completed tasks no matter how big or small to the best of my ability, as an apprentice it’s important to remember that the small tasks such as filling envelopes, shredding or ordering stationery are all tasks that are important to the business and need to be done.
I was able to sit in different meetings taking notes and I found this really useful to learn about the different areas of the business and have a better understanding of the organisation as a whole. I was given opportunities to attend training sessions such as iTQ to learn more about the Microsoft packages as well as in-house training sessions on our branding, social media and phones.
I was able to shadow the administrators at events, conferences and in meetings and by doing this I learnt how to organise events and what is involved in attending and supporting a conference. One key skill I learnt by shadowing was taking minutes, I always struggled with this and even tried to teach myself by looking online but the best way for me to learn this was to shadow a member of staff and observe, this is now a skill I now use often in my role.
What made you do the next NVQ?
I started doing my A-levels before leaving school in Creative Media and Art but the courses were changed after starting them which meant I left sixth form and got a job. I was never satisfied that I didn’t have a qualification at that level so I decided to do a level 4 NVQ in business administration.
I found doing the qualification whilst having a full time job challenging at times, if I was set deadlines in my work and had assignment deadlines to meet around the same time but I was offered support from my colleagues and manager by giving me help and advice with assignments. I had to do a lot of research to be able to complete certain assignments and I found I learnt a lot about business legislations and learnt new methods to use in my work such as Gantt charts and SWOT analysis.
As part of the qualification I had to evidence that I was able to manage a project, this isn’t something I hadn’t done previously in my role and so I was given a project to manage with the support of my manager. This has allowed me to take on more responsibility and learn new skills and I am really enjoying working on the project so far and could see this being something I want to do more of in the future.
I am really happy that I completed this qualification, I found it really interesting and feel I have learnt a lot and I also feel satisfied that I have completed a qualification at a higher level.
What advice would you give to people considering an apprenticeship?
I would highly recommend apprenticeships to anyone considering doing one and my advice would be to never think you won’t be good enough to work in a certain role or for a company. When companies recruit apprenticeships they are aware you are doing it to learn and gain experience and don’t expect you to already have that knowledge.
As an apprentice there might be certain tasks you are asked to do that you might not find challenging enough or could find boring but it’s important that those jobs are done and by doing those tasks to the best of your ability it will open new doors and opportunities.
Apprenticeships are a great way to learn new skills, have new experiences and earn money. It’s also a great way to build your confidence, help you grow as a person and learn key life skills. Looking back I am really happy that I chose to take the apprenticeship route instead of going to university.
In addition to our practise of hiring apprentices, IVE also operates creative apprenticeship programmes where we place apprentices into the creative industries. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our shaping creative futures page.
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