Becca is an apprentice business support administrator – she talks about how the ombudsman service has been there to support her, both professionally and personally.
A friendly and supportive first step
This is my first full time job at a large company since leaving school. I have a lot of freedom and flexibility here – I’m able to start my working day any time between 8am and 10am and then finish between 4pm and 6pm. But I haven't been left to get on with things. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. What I really like about working here is that no matter who you are, you’re accepted and supported. You really get the sense that you’re valued as an individual, but also part of a team. I'm learning skills that will set me up for life too, and this has really helped build my confidence.
After my first month of working here, I found out that a close family member was sick, which affected me massively. The Financial Ombudsman Service has been nothing but supportive of me, which has been so comforting through what has been a very difficult time. As soon as I let my manager know, I was given information about the many support systems available here, including mental health and well-being sessions, one-to-one counselling and access to trained mental health first-aiders.
Balancing work and learning
One of the biggest perks of an apprenticeship in my opinion is the fact that I’m getting paid at the same time as learning. I’m able to gain a valuable qualification while earning a full-time wage, plus I don’t have to pay back student loans. I also get the benefits of being a student – such as a NUS card, which is something that a lot of people don’t realise when they think about apprenticeships. Another thing an apprenticeship gives you is experience, so if you’re thinking about what route to choose, it’s worth thinking about this. What’s better than gaining a qualification and experience whilst getting paid?
The apprenticeships available here allow us to have the right blend of training and working. All the training we need to do for our apprenticeship is done during work hours so there’s no staying up until midnight or studying at the weekends! This training is about 20% of our working hours, so I work one day a week from home. I use this time to complete any coursework and revise for my end point assessment.
My manager is very supportive of this because she understands how important this part of the apprenticeship training is. She also attends any meetings and calls with my skills coach so she can ask any relevant questions.
Getting the chance to step up
A couple of months ago, I was given a great opportunity to step up and do something a little bit different. I was asked to organise an event for the teams that I work with. This was a great opportunity to gain some practical, hands-on experience and do something for my colleagues. There were a lot of things I had to think about for the event, including the budget, what the priorities would be for us and how to encourage others to take part.
There was a great turn out to the event and everyone really enjoyed themselves, which was really encouraging for me. People even stayed on after it had ended and gave me so much positive feedback about how much they had enjoyed themselves. It made all the planning worth it and I proved to myself that I could take on this kind of challenge.
This was a really valuable experience for me – teaching me about approaching and coordinating different departments and individuals to make sure an event happens smoothly. It also emphasised for me the importance of organisation and preparation in this kind of role, as I had to use transferable skills like communicating with confidence, which will be useful throughout my career.
Looking to the future
When I started this apprenticeship, I thought that I would complete it and then stay on at the service as a business administrator. But now that I’ve spent time shadowing some of our investigators and seeing what they do in their roles, I’m keen to explore the investigator roles on offer.
I’ve been able to see the importance of what investigators do at the service, really helping people who have a financial complaint. So after my apprenticeship ends, I’ll definitely be looking to apply for a role as an investigator.
When I was at school, I wasn’t even aware that this kind of career existed. In having the opportunity to do an apprenticeship, I’ve learnt about career paths I would have never known about before and found a job that I’m really interested in doing.