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"My first insight into apprenticeships came at the Sheffield Hallam jobs fair"

Sophie Oak

After speaking to Gaia Innovation at our jobs fair Sophie was offered an interview, while also approaching other organisations to discuss apprenticeship possibilities and applying to UCAS. Here's how Sophie got the job as Apprentice Events Manager at Gaia, studying BSc Professional Practice in Management at Hallam.

"The event changed my perspective on the kind of company I desired to work for."

"My first 'real' insight into degree apprenticeships came about at Sheffield Hallam's degree apprenticeship jobs fair; I was a Sheffield College student at the time studying at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy.

I saw the evening as a networking opportunity and a great chance to find out about degree apprenticeships, with the hope to approach businesses over coming weeks that may wish to recruit or find out more about degree apprentices. (I had never envisaged that I would find my employer simply by attending the Hallam open evening.)

I attended the event alongside my parents equipped with my CV and dressed suitably for my first meeting with a potential employer. Throughout the evening I met a number of potential employees from large businesses such as Hermes and JCB, alongside small social enterprises such as Gaia Innovation. The event changed my perspective on the kind of company I desired to work for, from entering the event with the mindset that I wanted to work within a huge organisation, to leaving the event with a potential offer from a local social enterprise."

"During the evening I met my current mentor and Operations Director at Gaia Innovation. I handed over my CV in exchange for her business card, which then progressed forward over the next few weeks with email trails and a date given for my telephone interview with Gaia Innovation's CEO. This process tested how I answered questions with regards to everyday scenarios I had experienced and gave the company a slight insight into who I was. I was then informed that I had been successful throughout this process and would move forward to the face to face interview stage, this interview was split into two halves, with an informal 'chat' with the team and then a written report on current affairs in the media at the time.

Throughout my interviewing stage with Gaia I had approached a number of alternative companies with regards to degree apprenticeships, this had led to meetings with larger teams that had not yet heard of the degree apprenticeship programme. I had also secured 'plan B' through being accepted to a number of universities to study full time Business Management courses, however in April 2018 my position as Apprentice Events Manager within Gaia Innovation was offered.

Since starting in August I have had continuous support from my team. Gaia allow me to climb mountains and develop within my role on a daily basis, without the fear of failure. I am responsible for communications between all students moving forward with our Search for a Star programme, allowing me to go into schools throughout the country to speak about apprenticeship opportunities and how the apprenticeship journey has made such a positive impact on myself. Facilitating inspirational events for students in both primary and secondary schools is an aspect which is also hugely rewarding, with impacts being made to pupils surrounding the understanding of how jobs of the future are changing and breaking gender stereotypes from an early age. The impactful opportunities we are able to facilitate within Gaia is what initially enticed me into the company and the direct change being made is what makes my role so rewarding and satisfying."

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