National Apprenticeship Week: Q&A with Max Hawkins

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week this year, we introduce some of our apprentices that we have working here at National Veterinary Services (NVS).

Max joined NVS in June 2018 following several attempts to find employment in to his chosen field of work, IT. He had studied online courses but had no experience and was unable to secure a role in the ‘traditional’ way. He opted to study an apprenticeship in IT services and joined our IT department. He is studying through Stoke on Trent college.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

Partly because of my lack of experience – I really wanted to get into IT and an apprenticeship was the best way to do it. I had tried to apply for jobs directly for 18 months with no luck, an apprenticeship was the best way for my career.

Is it what you expected?

Yes and no. I am used to the workload but it made me realise how little I knew. I have learnt a lot since I started, I was never able to put to the test what I knew before. Everyone has been so helpful though.

What valuable skills have you learnt during your apprenticeship?

Working with Microsoft Office, using it for college and business purposes are very different. I have learnt different IT programmes, bug fixing. I have also gained interpersonal skills through dealing with employees.

Are you given opportunities to have an input into your daily duties and manage your own workload?

Yes, absolutely. I am able to manage my own workload, unless something is time sensitive and high priority then I will obviously be told to make sure I am working on it but otherwise I can have freedom to manage my own tasks.

Do you think your apprenticeship is giving you a good foundation for a career in your chosen field?

Yes, definitely.

Do you think it is manageable to balance working full time with a study schedule?

Yes. It can be challenging. You have the time as long as you make it. For myself I have to do about four hours study on top of my normal hours at work to keep on track with college work.

Do you think there is good support for apprentices in the workplace?

Yes there is here. My team are really supportive.

Has your apprenticeship taught you anything about yourself?

It has shown me that I am more capable than I thought I was. I didn’t know what I could do. I had to take some time off due to my disability before joining here and haven’t had a job before so I wasn’t even sure I would be able to do the full time hours, I have proven to myself that I can.

Do you feel as though you are taken seriously in your role as an apprentice by your colleagues?

Yes definitely. No suggestion that I wouldn’t be able to do it, they expect that I will be able to do it.

What advice would you give someone who isn’t sure if an apprenticeship is the right choice for them?

I would say “give it a go”. It has definitely been good for me. I will actually be able to get a career out of it and I was struggling to before. Also, the good thing with apprenticeships is, the further along you go, the more specialised you can become. Its also free to do and you can get paid while you are doing it!