Find out everything you need to know about Business and Administration apprenticeships with this Q&A...
Mitch completed his apprenticeship with DPD Group in 2014, achieving an OCR Level 3 Diploma in Business and Administration. Here, he talks about why he went for an apprenticeship, what he did to secure an interview, and the great opportunities it led to…
What made you decide to do an apprenticeship in Business and Administration?
At the time, I wasn’t enjoying college. I picked subjects that I enjoyed but had no real end goal. It was also at a time when my mum had to leave her job, in order to care for my sister. I wanted to be working towards a qualification, whilst being able to earn money; with the hope to alleviate some of the financial pressure my mum was under.
So, I completed my first year, whilst searching for an Apprenticeship. The research itself took me a fair few weeks (5-6), as I had no real idea what I was looking for. Business and Administration stood out due to the number of advertised vacancies. When I started looking in to the opportunities, I saw the potential to ‘get my foot in the door’ at some huge companies. Hence my decision to apply to DPD Group UK.
Was it the only apprenticeship you applied for?
No, I also applied for an Aeronautical Engineering Apprenticeship with the Ministry of Defence. I made it through to the final stage of interviews, which was a competency-based set of questions. This process did take some time, and DPD offered me the job within the space of time that I was waiting to hear back from the MOD.
How was the application process? What advice would you give to others about to start their application?
For me, the application process went smoothly due to the research I put in. I read through the job and employer descriptions, then combined this with my own research to edit my CV, and cover letter. From the .gov website, I was taken over to DPD’s own internal application form. If I can give one bit of advice for the application, it would be to find out the values and aims of the employer. I couldn’t find these on their website, so I actually called through to their head office, and just had a conversation with one of the staff members. From this conversation, I was a lot more confident with my application writing.
How did you find the interview and how did you prepare for it?
Firstly, I was emailed an invite for a telephone interview. I made sure that I was set up in a quiet room, away from any distractions. All my research was printed out, ready for the call. Part of this research was background on the company. Then it was around the role itself. Finally, I had a page of questions to ask towards the end of the interview.
After a successful telephone interview, I was invited to the next stage of the process; the face-to-face interview. I prepared by revising my research, ensuring I was dressed appropriately, and triple checked my travel plans. I can confidently say the biggest contributing factor to the interview being successful, was the fact that I learned the values of the company and wrote down different ways in which I had previously demonstrated each one - Respect, Accountability, Passion, Flexibility, Hard work & Honesty. My interview feedback stated that what set me apart was the fact I had obviously shown the initiative to research what the company were looking for in their employees.
Describe a typical week
Initially, I was spending 4 days working in the office, alongside 1 day at City of Bristol College. The idea of this apprenticeship was for me to spend three months within each department of the Credit & Billing team of DPD. Each team would have different roles, so the actual workload was varied. After working hard in the first team, I was offered a full-time position, with the understanding that I could still continue with the qualification. This meant that I was no longer going to City of Bristol, apart from when I needed to do the computer-based assessments.
Did you receive any support or mentoring throughout your apprenticeship?
I was supported by a few people at any one time. Day-to-day support was provided by an allocated OJT (on-job-trainer), within the team I was working for. This was usually someone that was experienced within the role and was training me on that particular job. I then had a member of the Senior Leadership Team who carried out one-to-ones, and oversaw the Apprenticeship plan as a whole. We sat down once a month to go through progress, as well as discussing areas of interest or concern. Finally, I had an assessor who worked for City of Bristol College.
How were you assessed?
An assessor from City of Bristol College carried out a workplace visit once a month. He sat down next to me, observing me carrying out my regular role. There was a check-list of modules and tasks which I needed to demonstrate, in order to pass the practical side of the NVQ. These tasks required a few different types of evidence, for e.g. recorded discussions, written tasks and comments from my trainer. The tasks were essential to achieve a certain amount of credits for each level of the NVQ.
Internally, I was assessed by my OJT at the end of each week. This was then discussed at my monthly one-to-one with the lead contact for apprenticeships at DPD. The main focus of this was to make sure I was happy, but it also served as a company induction.
The other part of the assessments was some online exams for varying modules. These were spread out at different points of the apprenticeship. Initially, the idea of me attending college was to get ready for the exams. However, the college provided my workplace with the materials for me to prepare and revise. I then went in to a controlled exam environment within City of Bristol College, to carry out the computer-based assessments. Once I had passed the theory and practical side, the NVQ was complete.
What were the highlights of your apprenticeship?
I really enjoyed the fact that I had another incentive to motivate me whilst working. I had a focused goal to work towards, whilst still earning money.
On a personal level, the apprenticeship exposed me to huge array of roles within Business and Administration. I was able to build my interpersonal skills by speaking to huge variety of colleagues, including senior management. It set me on my way to develop a strong business etiquette.
What elements did you find the most challenging?
As I was becoming more experienced within my permanent role, my responsibilities and workload increased. At points, it was quite difficult to juggle some assessment tasks and my daily work expectations. That being said, the assessor was very understanding when I needed to do urgent work. He was quite happy to let me carry on and observe how I handled that situation. The support of DPD was also fantastic. Throughout the entire process, they made sure I was happy and comfortable.
What happened after you completed the apprenticeship, and how did it help to prepare you for your future?
When I completed the apprenticeship, I continued to secure promotions within DPD Group UK. They saw that I was committed to self-development, which led on to them investing in further qualifications for me to work towards. I went on to obtain a diploma in Credit Management (ICM), which was paid for by DPD, with the understanding that I continue to work for them for a minimum of 6 months after passing.
From then on, my foundations were set within DPD, and it was down to me to push for progression. They accommodated a program similar to that of a graduate scheme, whereby I spent some time with different departments to see which role I wanted to aim towards. I was then supported with my decision to work towards becoming an Account Manager.
None of the above would have been possible without the apprenticeship. Not only did it help me get ‘my foot in the door’, it taught me masses of transferrable skills, strong business etiquette, confidence, the hunger to develop and progress.
If you’d like to read more about apprenticeships in Business and Administration, check out our guide here.
Did this guide answer your questions? If not, or if you have any ideas for new guides, email firstname.lastname@example.org - we'd love to hear your thoughts!