This month, we have two apprentices for our apprentice of the month feature. Lauren Atwell and Tom Sproson are both working with the European Student Placement Agency (ESPA UK) as Level 2 business administration apprentices. They are coming to the end of their apprenticeships and will be finishing their time as an apprentice with a four-week work experience programme at a college in Austria.
ESPA UK provides six-month work placements for EU undergraduates, linking them with corporate companies and independent businesses throughout the UK. The company, based in Bath, was recently chosen as Business Employer of the Year at Bath College’s Celebrating Success Awards Ceremony for embracing the ethos of the apprenticeship scheme and giving Lauren and Tom some amazing opportunities.
What do you do in your job as an apprentice at ESPA UK?
We share similar job roles managing student registrations. As part of this, I make welcome packs for students coming to do internships and upload internship vacancies onto the ESPA UK portal. I also work with our marketing intern to come up with ideas for social media and I’ve arranged this year’s Christmas party.
I deal with student registrations and handle incoming CVs. I’m responsible for promoting internal vacancies to universities and responding to queries from universities. We both spend time answering calls and e-mails on a day to day basis. I’m also in charge of stationary, I make sure the office is stocked up with stationary supplies.
Can you tell me a bit about why you applied for an apprenticeship?
I didn’t really want to go to university, I didn’t want to study full-time, so I was looking for an apprenticeship. I was originally working in Canterbury in a travel shop before I came to live in Bath and spotted this opportunity. An apprenticeship is great because you’re getting work experience and a qualification at the same time – you don’t get that at university.
I was looking for something to increase my skill level. I thought I would try an apprenticeship to take a step up and make myself more desirable as an employee. I had a couple of jobs beforehand. I worked in a nursery, in an admin job and then I got an engineering job, which involved a lot of heavy lifting. I found this opportunity and I’ve never looked back since.
What was it like starting out as an apprentice?
I didn’t know what to expect when I first started here, but from the first interview with Madeline and Colin I knew they were genuinely nice people. They have lived up to that reputation, they have made it easy for us to grow and develop. If you looked at me a year ago, I was a different person. I’ve developed my confidence and my ability to communicate. Before I used to be anxious and nervous, even speaking on the phone and in meetings. I can’t thank them enough, my apprenticeship has been a really positive experience.
I’ve learnt how to improve myself within a business environment. I’ve taken on new responsibilities and learned how to listen to feedback. Communication is very important in this particular environment. I’ve learnt how to communicate with colleagues so that we’re working together and not overlapping on jobs.
How excited are you to be travelling out to Austria?
I’m very excited. It will give us an insight into the way that ESPA works. I will be challenging myself, learning from a new experience and gaining new skills – and that’s really valuable. Before I came to ESPA I hadn’t travelled a lot. Now I’ve travelled to Milan and I’ve been to London and Canterbury.
It’s going to be very different, we’re going to be working in a country where they don’t speak English. I’ve never done anything like this before, but this is what ESPA is all about.
Do you have any tips for someone looking for/starting an apprenticeship?
I would say find the right opportunity for you. Think about what you’re interested in learning about and try and find something based on that. Because you’re working you get to see what employers want from you as an employee. I think employers really value that experience.
You’re not going to be busy the first couple of days, so don’t expect too much too quickly. You have to let things come to you as you grow into the role and take on more responsibility.
When I was looking I applied for one apprenticeship at a time and tried to see how it went. I hadn’t heard of ESPA before and it seemed really interesting and the type of thing I wanted to do. I would say ‘go for it’. If you’re looking to get a job and experience at the same time, an apprenticeship is the best thing you can possibly do.
Interested in an apprenticeship? Let us know!
What are the next steps to becoming an apprentice?
Please complete the form below giving details of the apprenticeship you want to take and the employer who has offered you a placement.