My name is Xavier Williams. I'm 19 years-old and I'm an apprentice at Lloyds Banking Group. I joined in December 2014 and I can honestly say it has changed my life.
I was fortunate to be chosen as one of the stars of the Get in Go Far campaign to help people consider apprenticeships and to share my own experiences. Through this campaign I've appeared on billboards, watched myself on TV adverts and spoken at industry conferences. Check them out on twitter #GetInGoFar.
For me, the main factor in being a successful apprentice is determination. It has been important knowing when it's time to focus, learning how and when to apply myself and getting used to delivering strategies and projects to a deadline.
I was just your average school student who passed his GCSEs with Cs and 1 B (Maths) and like many other young people, I left school with university as my vision. When I started college I began to understand more about apprenticeships and the chance to learn and develop skills, while also being paid.
When applying for an apprenticeship (or jobs), there are a few top tips that I learnt:
- Don't be disheartened if you get rejected - this should motivate you and push you to keep on applying
- Prepare to put time into your application - there is no such thing as a successful rushed application
- Take time out to do you research before you apply
And for interviews...
- Calm your nerves by making general conversation
- Ask questions about the job - what's team going to be like? Is there room for promotions?
- What training opportunities will there be?
Most importantly, be yourself.
When you are successful, you've got your 'foot in the door'. Now it's the time to perform and impress your new organisation. There are many ways to get the most out of your apprenticeship and you will go through your own individual experience. After 18 months working as an apprentice my advice would be:
- Always take responsibility - especially when you are in the wrong. You want your employer to know that if you do make a mistake you are looking for ways to ensure it doesn't happen again
- Remain attentive and positive - every work place loves an individual that is optimistic and very much focused on their role
- Maintain attention to detail - ensure that you are competent in your day-to-day role before taking on any additional responsibilities
- Aspire to do better - there is always room for improvement, the further you go the more frequent opportunities occur
Since starting in December 2014 Lloyds Banking Group have given me many opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. The Group sent me overseas to the Isle of Man for three weeks to work high profile cases and to be trained by senior members of the department. This has really helped me in my role as an analyst, and has also given me opportunities to network with many skilled people across the organisation.
I have also undertaken many different extra-curricular activities with the bank such as attending development fairs, featuring in Lloyds Banking Group themed videos and even featuring in the group's recruitment booklet. One particular highlight was being asked to run the Colleague Engagement team in the customer screening department.
My advice? Start applying for apprenticeships now. It's the best thing that I've done and I would 100% recommend it to other young people!