University vs. Apprenticeships – making the choice that’s right for you

Rebecca Hannah

September 5, 2018

Hi, my names Rebecca Hannah and I’m currently a Higher Apprentice at Virgin Media. I joined the People Apprenticeship Scheme at the beginning of 2017 and as part of the scheme I have completed a Level 5 Diploma in Human Resource Management while also being accredited to Associate level by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Best thing about being an apprentice

I have a number of things I’ve loved about being an apprentice. I love the variety of work and exposure you get to different areas of the business – the masses of support and encouragement I have received from my team and wider teams and finally the people and culture of the brand I work for! One of the great things about being an apprentice (a part from getting the best of both worlds – a qualification and a job!) you aren’t expected to know everything from day one and Virgin Media are great at understanding that for many, this could be your first full-time job. For this reason you have a dedicated support structure, whether that be a tutor, mentor or buddy. You are fully supported in both your day-to-day work and throughout your qualification and the business understands that you are learning which is really important.

Why did you choose to study an apprenticeship?

I finished college with Level 3 qualifications, applied and got accepted into five top university’s and although I knew I wanted to carry on learning in some way, I wasn’t sure university was the right option for me. I started to look into other careers options and routes and was delighted when I found I could do a degree level qualification whilst working for such a well-known company as Virgin Media. I was really keen on the idea of gaining some real work experience and studying for a recognised qualification. I think as I was planning on going to university to study for a Business Management degree I feared that even after spending three years studying I still wouldn’t know what I wanted to do afterwards, which happens to be the case with many of my friends who went on to university.

Why Virgin Media?

Like most people, the brand attracted me in initially. Virgin Media have a great reputation of providing an inclusive and fun culture to work in, which is apparent when working here. It’s a large business, and also a part of a much bigger global picture with Liberty Global, which I find exciting and means that there is loads of opportunity’s to take advantage of.

What advice would you give when making a decision on university vs. Apprenticeships?

I’d say make sure you keep your options open. There are so many career options out there and take the time to explore the ones, which might work best for you

Myth busting

I don’t think people really know enough about apprenticeships and the vast range on offer nowadays. Many people still believe apprenticeships are more suited to those who aren’t academic or want a more ‘hands on’ job however this isn’t the case. There are now more than 200 apprenticeship standards on offer and its great Virgin Media are able to offer so many of these in various areas – like mine in the People team.

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