My apprenticeship has made such a difference to me and my family - both at work and at home. It's great that National Apprenticeship Week celebrates apprentices like me and the positive impact that we have where we work. The apprenticeship has also made a difference to me personally, boosting my confidence so that I'm now looking at how I can progress and make a career for myself.
After I had my son, Alfie, I was working in a bar because I just needed a job that would allow me to look after him in the evening and at weekends. I joined McDonald's in 2011 when I was 19 years old, after hearing good things from friends who worked there. To be honest, I knew that the job would give me the flexibility I needed to look after my son, but I never imagined that it would also help me to keep learning and developing my skills.
So many people who are around the same age as me are finding it hard to get into a job, let alone one that gives you the chance to gain nationally-recognised qualifications. Keeping up with my education has always been really important to me, but it is not always easy to do.
Although it was hard juggling work and looking after my little boy, I was determined to keep learning, so when I first started at McDonald's I had signed up for a home study course in my free time. I really wanted to learn new things, but I found the home study course expensive and took up a lot of time, especially for a single mum trying to do everything at once.
When my restaurant offered me the chance to join the McDonald's apprenticeship scheme last spring, I was really excited to hear that I could get qualifications at work. The training comes to life in the restaurants and this really helped me to see that what I was learning could be applied my daily job.
I've learnt all about where McDonald's food comes from and how its supply chain fits together, which has made me feel part of the wider business. I have a much better idea of the bigger picture and can see how my role makes a difference.
After 12 months of learning, I have an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Hospitality and Catering (level 2), which is accredited by City & Guilds, and equivalent to five GCSEs grade A* - C. When I started learning, I also completed maths and English courses online too, which will help me get on anywhere and is great to put on my CV.
Completing the apprenticeship has given me a real boost. It has made me feel more confident about the work I do and I've learnt so much that I can't think of any reason why someone wouldn't do it if they wanted to get on in their career.
I'm not just noticing a difference in my day to day work since I got involved in my apprenticeship - it's taught me valuable lessons such as time management and organisation, which is really useful at home as well. I'm a lot better at planning ahead now, even when it comes to silly things like packing spare T-shirts for my son, Alfie, in case he spills something!
My apprenticeship has made me keen to look for my next challenge. I'd like to build on what I've done so far and progress my career with McDonald's. Now I'm seeing what opportunities are available to help me move up the ladder, as I know how valuable my apprenticeship was.
I really enjoyed my apprenticeship and it made me want to do well at work and serve my customers better, so it must be helping McDonald's too. Every day at work is different and there are always new challenges and situations to try and address. I really enjoy talking to customers and having a laugh with my colleagues. It's important to be friendly, cheerful and helpful when you're dealing with customers all day.
My priority at work is to do the best that I can. I put my all into my work and I'm constantly trying to improve my skills. At first, I was just looking for a job that fitted in with my schedule, but I've actually found a job I love that helps me to learn more all the time.