Apprenticeships are a preeeeeetty big deal right now. You might have seen them being advertised at train stations or on the telly. With uni getting more and more expensive, and entry level jobs as difficult to find as ever, an apprenticeship is a amazing opportunity to earn money, while getting a qualification and experience of a full time job. Yet, for some reason, some people still seem to have a hard time getting to grips with how great they are.

O2 have a whole squad of apprentices working for them in roles like project management, marketing and accounting. So we decided to grill some O2 apprentices about their experience, to find out how the reality of their day to day life compares to what they were expecting on their first day on the job…

Expectation: stress


Reality: Fun

“I really enjoyed my apprenticeship,” Amanda Edwards, a Customer Support Advisor at O2 told us. On her apprenticeship, Amanda worked as an Account Manager. “I thought that it was going to be a strict 9-5 job in a stressful atmosphere, but I found that O2 allow you to work flexibly and it was a fun, exciting environment to work in. I thought that the NVQ would be very difficult and tedious, but it was actually really fun. And we got to go on lots of experience days and trips through the programme which was a good incentive for getting our work done!”


Expectation: A second class option

one of those job things

 Reality: Support throughout the business

“I really did enjoy my apprenticeship!” William Wade, a Project Analyst from O2 told us. As an apprentice he had roles in lots of different departments, from the Supply Chain team to Service Experience Management Centre. “I got to learn so much about so many different parts of the business and the industry. Throughout school apprenticeships were often talked about like the second class-option when compared to university, but once I was here, I was shocked at how keen people at all levels of the business are to support apprentices and the scheme.”


Expectation: Bottom of the food chain


Reality: skills and development

“I really enjoyed my apprenticeship,” said Saif Miah, a Sales Advisor. “I was in a great environment with good managers and colleagues, they all made me feel welcomed and I did not feel any different to a normal staff member. I enjoyed the time I was given off work to focus on my apprenticeship, luckily I had a great manager who structured regular time off from the shop floor to focus on my studies. I was educated to A Level equivalent and found the coursework a piece of cake! I always had help from my managers when I was unsure about anything in regards to my coursework, and the events that I attended were great.”

“Initially I did not expect much from the programme,” Saif told us. “I came from a previous apprenticeship where they did not focus a lot on developing the skills or abilities of the apprentices. Once I joined O2 I knew straight away I had the support of my managers and colleagues, and knew that O2 had a clear structure. I have grown and matured whilst at O2 and have become more professional too.”


Expectation: Sat at a desk all day


Reality: flexibility

“My apprenticeship was the exact opposite of what I was expecting,” Mark McWhirter told us. He’s the Service Manager for all 477 of O2′s stores and did his apprenticeship in the Service Management department, and did placements in lots of different teams. “I thought I was going to be chained to a desk, never allowed to see sunlight,” he told us. “It’s the exact opposite! I work remotely whenever I want, which gives me a lot of flexibility to spend time with my family back in Ireland, or with my other half.”

“I loved the relaxed atmosphere about my apprenticeship.There were times of pressure, and times when you could go for a coffee and catch up with various people. O2 is all about its people which is right up my street. I loved the fact that I could move around the department too, so I experienced everything from managing things like giffgaff and Tesco Mobile, to working on the biggest project in O2 history, called Smart Metering. Very few people that go to university would get the same experience of sitting in front of the CEO of giffgaff talking about O2’s performance that month at the age of 21!”

“My apprenticeship, like every job had some highs and lows. But I absolutely loved it overall, and don’t have any regrets choosing it as my way into the business, versus the typical route of university.”

“Plus…It’s not every day that you get to be the person who brings O2 to Gay Pride for the first time. Buying a 6 foot moving cat (Jonesy from our old adverts) isn’t something everyone will have on their CV!”

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