I was 16, just finished my last exams and was looking for something new to do. By all means I was classed as a 'normal teenager off to college', but my mental health didn't permit.
I've struggled with anxiety for the majority of my life and noticed in my late teens that it centred around school and traditional mainstream education. The constant pressure that teachers and school put on kids so young was too much for me to bear, so the thought of going to college and enduring two more years of the same thing was completely off-limits for me.
The end of the school year rolled around and I was desperately looking for an alternative to attending college. I'd researched internships, work experience placements and even distance learning courses, but there was always one option that stuck in my mind - an apprenticeship.
After a fairly stressful search, I found a copywriting job at an SEO agency in my hometown of Manchester. The interview was nerve-wracking but thankfully, I went through a provider that knew all about my mental health history and they gave me some great tips on how to give a good interview.
After the initial chat, I was invited to spend one day at the office to see if I liked the role, which also gave my employer an opportunity to get to know me and my working habits. I was offered the job on that Wednesday and started working the following Monday!
Since I started working here two years ago, I've encouraged everybody I know to consider an apprenticeship - even if they've got their heart set on traditional college for the sole reason of wanting to go to University.
Remember that A Levels aren't your only option and an apprenticeship can offer you the chance to get a qualification whilst learning so much more. I did a Level 3 Diploma in Creative and Digital Media. I don't have the 'traditional' entry requirements to study a full-time University course, but I still got offered one... All because of my experience.
Instead of proving on paper that I can do something, I shown them with my results. I packed everything into my personal statement that I was proud of (including my writing features!) and they offered me an unconditional place within 5 days from submitting my application.
Apprenticeships give you the chance to do something and experience things you wouldn't think of in a classroom. For example, I was writing a piece of content on behalf of a client to put on their website as a blog post about essential oils. Not only would I be limited to certain industries if I was to do a traditional A Level writing course, but it wouldn't have provided me with the opportunity to speak to the client and understand the business-side of the content I'm writing.
Two months ago, I managed to complete (and pass!) my qualification and have since began freelance writing for a handful of my own clients. Looking back, opting for an apprenticeship was one of the most rewarding achievements in my life and gave me a real sense of accomplishment and grip on real, post-education life.