Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020
Jemma Stewart, the newest member of the Scottish Government’s Cyber Resilience Unit shares her journey and why the Modern Apprenticeship scheme was the correct career pathway for her.
“Throughout school I had always envisioned myself staying on till the very end then heading off to university to study a degree.
As I got older, and my school workload became heavier I started to reconsider if I wanted to continue to this pattern into the end of my teenage years and into my twenties.
All I had ever known was school and that those who do well get into university, this was until I met Lisa who was my career advisor in my 5th and 6th year of school.
Lisa made me aware of the different pathways I could go down after I left school. These included college, university, full and part time work places and modern apprenticeships.
My initial desire was to go to college and study marketing. I briefly considered a modern apprenticeship but for months put it to the side as I had stereotypical views of them, that being low paid, and doing all the work no one else wanted to do.
I got accepted into college at the end of my 5th year of school to study a HND in Marketing however as summer came to a close that year I began to get cold feet and wondered if that path was for me.
From the age of 14 I had worked part time in my local chippy and loved the fact I was earning my own money that I could spend on whatever I wanted and the thought of continuing to study while working part time to still be able to afford all the plans I had for myself and friends turned me off of college life.
I gave up my place in college and returned for a 6th year of school where I was desperately trying to find my path in life.
By this point I thought school had nothing else to offer me so I dropped out halfway through my final year.
I continued to work part time in the chippy and for the first 6 months of being out of school I loved it. Being able to see my friends and family more than I used to, exploring my city and meeting new people.
As time went on I began to realise that I had to find a more financially stable job, I craved a structured work life, goals to work towards and to make connections in the world of work.
I applied for countless jobs ranging from journalism, marketing, finance and admin, you name it I applied for it.
Then I stumbled across a job post advertising for a modern apprentice to come and work for the Cyber Resilience Unit within the Scottish Government.
Instantly I thought to myself there are so many more people out there who are smarter than me and have more knowledge on this subject than I do.
So I scrolled past and kept on applying for other jobs and for a month I noticed the ad kept popping up on my phone, but still I thought there would be no point in applying.
My parents then caught wind of this post as they had been forwarding me job adverts to apply for and with a lot of convincing got me to apply for it.
A week passed and I received an email stating my application had been selected for the interview process.
Despite being pleasantly surprised that my application must have stood out I nearly talked myself out of not going for the interview because I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough for a job like this.
My mum reassured me that even if I didn’t get the job it would still be a very good experience to gain.
So I went for the interview and left feeling that it went better than expected but still could have gone better.
The next day I received a phone call from my future line manager Dean saying I had been chosen for the position.
Instantly I started crying with joy, I felt so overwhelmed.
The last two years I had spent trying to find my path and every time I thought I had, it just didn’t feel right with me, but this time it did.
I received the good news in August and was told my first day would be October 7 allowing me to leave the chippy and enjoy my final months of doing sweet nothing.
Fast forward to the present day and I am still loving my job the same as I did on my first day.
A typical day for me in the Cyber Resilience Unit is kicking off by checking my emails as well as the Cyber Resilience inbox, I then can be doing tasks ranging from admin related tasks, collating media relating to my work, planning and organising events.
During meetings I take action points for my team, when at events I help with registration then have the opportunity to network and participate in the event and to round of the end of each month I attend the Modern Apprenticeship Network where past and present MA’s come together and have a session relating to a different topic every month. This ranges from mental health, pensions, how to boost your cv, your strengths and how you can come past your weaknesses.
What I love most about my job is that it isn’t your average 9-5 job sitting at a desk all year round as well as this I love the fact that diversity is celebrated and not something you should be ashamed of.
The Scottish Government also has its own social media site Yammer which has countless groups waiting to be joined and connected with likeminded people. I personally am part of the mental health and modern apprentice yammer groups.
It’s fair to say my opinion of modern apprenticeships has shifted completely since I began working in the Scottish Government, I am able to learn on the job while earning enough money to do everything I ever planned to do and more.
Being a modern apprentice in the Scottish Government Cyber Resilience Unit has made me feel valued as a colleague. My team are always eager for me to have new and interesting pieces of work as well as accompanying them when I can to different events
For anyone with the question why should I apply for the Scottish Government? My answer would be, when you land in a place the Scottish Government your work is what you make it, the opportunities are endless. Work hard and you can be set for life here as well as move on to other things with all the amazing experience you will gain working for the Scottish Government.
The work life is flexible meaning you can arrange your hours of work to suit your home life. As an apprentice you have 25 days paid leave you can take throughout the year and above everything you are encouraged to be yourself and show it off, whether that be through the clothes you wear, the makeup on your face or the tattoos and jewellery you proudly wear.
I am looking forward to see where my work will take me as I truly believe in a place like this the world is your oyster, you make how you want it.”
Apprenticeships help you build the experience and skills that employers want and need. No matter what stage you’re at, they’ll help you get set for a bright future. And now, there are three different routes to consider; Foundation, Modern and Graduate.
For more information about Scottish Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.scot.