Marking National Apprenticeship Week, ISE’s new apprenticeship ambassador Jade explains her journey into early careers and onto the boardroom.
After finishing school and A-Levels, I had no idea what I wanted to do next, but what I did know is that I wanted the opportunity to continue to be curious, challenge myself and help others.
The careers guidance available to me was limited and the only real option anyone talked to me about was university. I was the first member of my family to go to university, so there was a huge amount of pride and encouragement from my family and teachers to continue to travel down the academic route.
After settling on Human Resource Management (strangely specific I know!), I decided after two years of study to complete a year in industry placement. I found it bizarre to be learning about how to recruit, motivate, develop and reward people from textbooks and wanted to see how businesses did it for real.
I managed the graduate programmes for Converteam, an engineering firm, and even had the opportunity to revamp the recruitment process and introduced assessment centres.
This was my first real insight into the world of early careers and I loved every minute. I got the biggest thrill from seeing the difference in people from joining a programme to graduating and being part of their personal development.
After completing my studies, I was lucky enough to be offered a role to come back to with Converteam and found myself in my first HR generalist role partnering the business.
I loved the variety, problem solving, relationship building and influencing that business partnering required.
At the time, the business was going through a growth boom and the majority of my time was spent in recruitment and development. I always managed to keep my love for early careers alive, managing graduate programmes and supporting apprenticeships from the side lines.
Dream job at Severn Trent
Fast-forward 10 years, including a change of company to Severn Trent, and an opportunity that led me to my dream job. Here I am, New Talent Lead, absolutely privileged to lead our schools outreach, work experience, apprentice, intern and graduate programmes.
We now have over 300 people on our programmes as well as offering 300-500 work experience placements each year.
Advocate of apprenticeships
I’m hugely passionate about providing young people with meaningful careers guidance and work experience and the positive impact this can have, especially in the drive to level up.
Where you live and the circumstances you happen to be born into should not dictate your success. Young people deserve a range of routes that will enable them to reach their full potential.
That is why I’m such a proud apprenticeship ambassador and advocate for the strengthening of technical qualifications that teach people the skills, knowledge and behaviours and give them access to well paid jobs and careers.
If I could have a career do-over, I would do an apprenticeship in a heartbeat!
I’m also grateful for the opportunities that my managers and mentors have provided to me throughout my career.
I was allowed the space, and trusted, to try things, to have a go and to be guided and directed when needed. It’s allowed me to learn a lot (not always by getting things right!), and really grow and develop as an individual.
I’ve always had to battle with imposter syndrome and the support, guidance and cheerleading that people have given in my career has helped me to minimise that voice in my head. That’s why I will always want to give back, to support others, and help them see and unlock the brilliance that is within them.
I had the delight of being a judge for the 2020 ISE Awards. I was blown away by the passion, dedication and positive impact that all of the submitting organisations were making.
This year’s awards are now open and I encourage you to enter – you have until 13 February. Read about the categories and how to enter. You can also be inspired and read about how previous winners managed to scoop their award.
ISE board director
By being involved in the awards I knew I wanted to play a larger role in enabling and influencing the early careers agenda. Which lead me to applying for a role on the ISE board. I am steering the apprenticeship agenda and can’t wait to throw myself into a new challenge, meet like-minded people and collectively drive positive change over the coming years.
Severn Trent has been active members of the ISE for many years. I’d really recommend making the most of the ISE network, there are hundreds of amazing people working in a variety of sectors that you can learn from, natter to and bounce ideas off.
If there were three things I could tell my younger self, it would be these:
1. Be curious – say yes, try new things, don’t be afraid of getting things wrong. It’s often when we do our best learning. And get comfortable with being uncomfortable, it’s where the magic happens. Always do your best and don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.
2. Be you – take time to understand what makes you, what’s important to you, where you get your energy, what you like and dislike. Find a job and career that plays to your strengths, but be willing to do things that don’t, it’s all part of the learning process. Most importantly, stay true to who you are, don’t try and be something or somebody you’re not.
3. Be brave – be afraid and do it anyway, use your voice, ask the questions, share your thoughts, challenge where you don’t think something is right. Positive change only comes from people who are prepared to challenge the status quo.
You may be interested in more career stories
Read about how you can advance your career in 2023 with the support of ISE