Zoe’s apprenticeship and beyond
Where it all started
About 15 years ago I made the decision to put my career on hold and start a family. It was a big decision, but the right one, as I knew once the kids were settled into school I would be ready for full time employment again. When the time came, I started looking and realised that the jobs I wanted required recent experience and training, which was something I didn’t have. This was when I came across apprenticeships, they seemed like the perfect way to gain both a qualification and the experience I needed to achieve my career aspirations.
Getting a foot in the door
I applied for the apprenticeship on the company website which was really simple and was asked to attend an ‘Apprentice Day’ at the local office in Scarborough. I remember feeling super anxious but I really had no need to be – everyone was so welcoming and went out of their way to put all the apprentice candidates at ease.
Throughout the day I had to sit and chat with different people from various departments and at the end of the event I was thrilled to find out I’d picked for both Housing and Customer Services – I had to choose! I decided that Customer Services would be a great fit for me as it would help me learn about all areas of the business and I would eventually be able to branch out into other departments if any jobs came up.
My apprenticeship honestly went by so fast. It was a 12 month contract studying for a Customer Services NVQ level 2 and I learnt loads, it even inspired me to go on and complete my level 3 too. The apprenticeship gave me a brilliant grounding and strong skill set in customer services – it’s truly something I still pride myself on today. From assisting with everyday essential tasks to being accountable for more complex customer needs and issues, you learn how to deal with everything.
During my time as an apprentice I applied for two permanent positions. I didn’t get the first one but my manager kept encouraging me so I applied again and was successful. I was over the moon that just seven months into my apprenticeship I had the confidence and skills to secure a full time permanent position!
I learned so much in the customer services team – it really is a brilliant melting pot for anyone new to an organisation. My time in customer services came to an end as I was successful in applying for a Housing Officer post. Beyond that, I specialised even further directing my career into the income side of housing. I became a money management officer which organically led to the role I do today as a benefit caseworker. All through my career, my job roles have been customer focussed; supporting customers to sustain their tenancies, offering advice and guidance while working closely with partnering agencies. If you think about it, it’s a big extension of where I began in customer services!
Beyond Housing is genuinely a brilliant place to work and my apprenticeship was an amazing opportunity to learn on the job. You are supported all the way through; from completing your qualification to finding a job afterwards. I think it’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are for people aged 16-18, I was 28 when I started mine and it was hands down the best decision I ever made for my career.