#NAW2016 The most important thing I’ve learnt in the last couple of years is that if it’s not okay, it’s not the end, says Creative Apprentice, Olivia Clarke.

Date Created: 16th Oct 2017

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Time seems to move so quickly in the last year of college that you end up not being entirely sure what you did for half of it. Everyone is talking about going to university. All your teachers ever seem to talk about is UCAS points, and how many you need for getting into your first choice of university. The deadline for most uni applications is just before the Christmas holidays, and at this point I still had no idea what course I wanted to do, let alone which university I wanted to spend an entire three years studying at.

I knew I enjoyed photography and I was good at it, so I thought this was the most logical course for me to study. Then I decided I wanted to study by the sea, and chose a university with an excellent reputation for the arts. But still, something just didn’t feel right. I have worked since I was 14 and enjoy the working environment, whereas I always found with education I didn’t have much motivation. Truthfully, I didn’t love reading a hundred and one textbooks on ‘what a photograph represents’. For a while, I chose to ignore these feelings.I got caught up in the excitement and buzz of going to uni, living in halls and being a lot more independent.

And so I found myself, three months in to my first year of university, feeling reasonably happy – but the course I was doing was different to what I had expected. While others seemed to be loving it, I couldn’t help but wish I had a job instead. At the end of that third month, I decided uni was definitely not for me. I packed my bags and made the train journey home on a cold, dark morning. I didn’t have anything planned for what I was going to do when I got there, though I knew I needed a job. I wasn’t ready to let go of my dreams of working in the creative sector, but I saw no way of achieving that without having a degree.

I had previously thought about apprenticeships when I was in college, but at the time, it seemed impossible to find one that was creative, and not the typical engineering or plumbing course. One late night, I was browsing the web looking at job after job in the creative sector with the dreaded words, ‘educated to degree level’, at the bottom of the page. And then, low and behold, I stumbled across something a little different – an apprenticeship with a film company in my town, AND I didn’t even need a degree to apply! As I read through the advert, it became more and more clear that this was the perfect opportunity for me. The position was a Creative Administrative Apprentice and would last a year. I couldn’t believe what I had actually found – it felt like a dream come true, like someone had answered all my prayers and sprinkled sparkling magic dust over me.

Now, a couple of weeks into my apprenticeship, I can honestly say that nothing has ever felt so right. In the short time I have been here, I have already noticed my confidence go through the roof, and the job just seems to be becoming more and more perfect as time goes on.

It is really exciting to be working in the creative sector as an apprentice, to be able to go to meetings with other creative companies where you can meet others who share your interests, to network with people who can give you advice on building your career. It is a great opportunity to gain life experience and see how people work day-to-day in a sector that I aspire to have a career in. I can grow my experience and make myself more attractive to future employers with a list of skills that in reality, university might not have given me.

Doing an apprenticeship, I have responsibility and independence, whilst also having a trainer to go to for advice. My manager and colleagues have been so welcoming and helpful and I already feel part of a team and don’t want the year to end! I feel like I am on a massive rollercoaster, but I am only going up now, and although it might sound cliché, I can honestly say that doing this apprenticeship has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My advice for anyone at college feeling lost – take your time, consider your options and think about what you like doing, not just subject-wise, but how you like to learn. If university doesn’t feel right for you, that’s okay. Don’t be put off by the careers advisers or your teachers who say it will be impossible to ever get an apprenticeship in the creative sector – if you try hard enough, it is possible – and more than that it’s incredibly rewarding.

If you’re already at university, don’t be afraid to admit it if you’re not enjoying it. It really isn’t for everyone. The most important thing I’ve learnt in the last couple of years is that if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

Words: Olivia Clarke

Wednesday 16th March, 2016

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For 15 – 25 yrs Work-based learning

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