Project management is a profession that many people are interested in but they don’t even know. You may not think this, but you’re probably working with a project manager in your current job; this could mean looking over events or even managing one, starting a business or helping launch a new product. Or maybe, you know what project management is and you’re interested in joining our rewarding profession. So what is an apprenticeship in project management like and how do you get a project management apprenticeship? Keep reading, as I share my experiences:
My journey into project management
My journey began when I left college at 17 with a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business and was indecisive: I couldn’t choose whether I wanted to go university or do an apprenticeship, so I decided to work. Believe it or not, I worked in a whole different sector, as branch sales negotiator for BSS Industrial, before I got my apprenticeship with Twinings.
It felt unreal for the first few weeks: the opportunity working in a different city, travelling every day and waking up at early hours were an exciting and scary adjustment in life, especially after COVID-19 and working in a totally different way. I got a lot of support from my line manager encouraging me that everything would be fine and to take time with the new role.
The first few weeks involved lots of training and introductions with the team and then we had our first lecture which was online; I met lots of different people doing the same course. We had mutual understanding of the challenges to come from our new careers even though the age gap was quite big. Many people on the course and in the office are much older than me, but I haven’t felt any different, nor have to prove myself – they treat me like everyone else. As an apprentice you get to meet people in similar situations to yourself which helps make everything less daunting.
At work I was introduced to projects that were happening in the supply centre, which meant I had to pick up information quickly and get an overview of what was going on. I joined meetings about projects before I was introduced to the actual project that I would be supporting. It was so exciting as it was the first project I’d be working on properly; I felt like an actual project manager and am looking forward to learning more and more about projects at Twinings.
Stay strong and listen to feedback
I applied to three apprenticeships and got rejections after each interview but I took the harsh feedback (which I thought was harsh) and used it to prepare for my interview with Twinings. I had zero hope as I didn’t get hired by many companies due to age and experience. Make sure you learn about the company as well as their values so you can answer questions in a meaningful way. Definitely avoid exaggerating lots about yourself, it’s going to give you issues later on – keep it realistic and just be yourself. Take any feedback you get as it will encourage you to do your best in the interviews.
Constant rejection can cause self doubt which affects your focus so you can’t bring your best self to interviews. I personally believe it’s important to look at your positives and ask for feedback as much as you can. It can be harsh, but it will encourage you to do your very best by improving on weaker areas. Sharing relevant day to day responsibilities from whatever job you’ve done before and the skills you’re learning through school or work, will show your dedication and understanding to the interviewer.
Reassuring yourself is key, give it a go and just have a mindset of seeing what happens. As well preparing yourself to avoid that self-doubt in the interview, try not to focus too much on what the outcome of the interview will be, instead enjoy the opportunity.
Taking a second to breathe
It’s important to take a breather. Starting a new job can be overwhelming: new people, new timings, new responsibilities, etc. Take a second away and think about how it is a new routine: it’s important that you give your brain a chance to think calmly. Constantly stressing and being overwhelmed can cause unnecessary anxiety or even panic attacks. Sort your day plan to ensure better progress in projects and yourself; prioritise what needs to be completed. Do this before going to an interview or meeting as well, it will ensure better flow in your progress and performance.
Twinings is very supportive with my learning and my passion to my career, it’s a company that encourages me to do my best with plenty of opportunities. I have met people that care about my progress and are willing to support me. Being an apprentice is a great opportunity to learn and work at the same time, and a project management apprentice in the food and drink sector makes it even more exciting to work on unique projects. Not only will it help my career, but it’s exposing me to so many different ways of handling change. If you want to be a project management apprentice, you just need to have a way of showing how willing and passionate you are about your work. You can learn more about project management apprenticeships here.
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