Looking Back with Artswork’s 2021 Graduating Apprentices | Calvin, Creative Apprentice at Artswork

Date Created: 16th Jun 2021

Image of Calvin talking to two Artswork colleagues at an event

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#NoRegrets Our Learning, Skills and Enterprise Team apprentice Calvin explains why for him nothing beats jumping in at the deep end when it comes to learning and career development…

Two years ago, I had just completed my A-levels and had walked through my college’s supermarket style doors for the last time.

All of a sudden, after 16 years in education, I was about to enter what my father calls ‘the real world’. I had decided not to apply for university as another three years of exams, unnecessary stress and lecturers telling me education was the be-all and end-all was not something I was particularly craving in my life, especially as I had no strong urge to do any specific degree. Would I have loved the student lifestyle? Without a doubt. Did I feel I could justify £27,000 to experience said lifestyle without really being interested in studying a specific subject or wanting a degree? No.

In fact, the only thing I really was certain of when I left college was that I didn’t want to go to university. I didn’t have a clue about anything else or what I wanted to do with my life. Still don’t really but I think many young people feel that way. However, with that slightly worrying thought aside, the main reason I didn’t think university was the best option for me was that I felt nothing could prepare me more for ‘the real world’ than hands-on experience. If you take just one thing away from reading this I think it should be the importance of gaining experience.

For me, no experience is bad experience. I believe the thing that separates those who are extremely successful in life from those who are not, is a desire to learn from experience – less talking and more doing!

Picking up experience is something I believed I could do a lot better in an apprenticeship than at university.

As I sit here now and think back to 2019 – me sat in the interview room at Artswork trying to pluck up the courage to refill my water glass – I see a totally different person. The growth and progress I’ve made is too complex to describe in words. Not only do I now know there is no such thing as free parking in Southampton (I had a lovely little surprise waiting for me on my windshield after my interview), I also simply feel so much more confident and prepared for whatever the next step is for me. I think that feeling is something only experience can bring you.

This apprenticeship has also made me realise the importance of ‘jumping in at the deep end’. If you’re unsure about something and you keep overthinking what to do, you often end up doing nothing. If you jump in at the deep end and get water up your nose and struggle to stay afloat, next time you do it you feel far more prepared. It’s only after you get out of the water and try again that you notice how much better you are second time around, learning from your mistakes, able to see the progress you’ve made. It’s only now that I have completed my apprenticeship that I have realised how different I am and can reflect on the many skills I have developed such as communication, teamwork, organisation, professionalism, motivation and all the other buzzwords you put in your CV. I now have a seemingly endless list of skills, experience and attributes that I can confidently talk about and demonstrate in applications and professional situations.

As someone who wanted to and still does wish to enter a creative career, this two-year process has been invaluable. If, like me, you know you want a creative career but feel apprehensive, please just get stuck in. You’ll find your way and you’ll learn how to swim.

Think an apprenticeship is the right path for you? Visit the government’s Find an Apprenticeship site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you or keep a look out on our Opportunities page for apprenticeship opportunities at/with Artswork.



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