Towards the end of 2023, we saw several of our apprentices celebrate success at the first-ever Kaplan Apprenticeship Awards.
Finance apprentice at Jet2, Charlotte Murgatroyd, won the Citizenship Award at the Kaplan Apprenticeship Awards 2023.
Charlotte’s nominee, Katie Rankin, mentioned within her nomination that Charlotte has worked with her organisation to ensure that new apprentices feel supported when joining the business. She highlighted that “Charlotte’s exceptional attention to detail and attitude to work and engagement in the programme is second to none.”
Her passion during her training is very clear to see, so we caught up with Charlotte to gain an insight into her experience so far, and why she believes apprenticeships are so important when gaining skills for life and excelling in your career.
Here’s what Charlotte says…
Can you tell us about your career so far and what made you do an apprenticeship?
Starting my apprenticeship was a change in career path for me. Initially, after I left sixth form, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I went to university to study something I’d enjoy. I decided to do Law and Criminology and quite enjoyed it whilst I was doing it, but then found it quite tedious towards the end and wasn’t too interested in pursuing a career in this area.
So, when I finished university, I took on an administrative and customer contact role for around 2-3 years but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. So, I knew I needed to look for something that I’d find more engaging. One thing I enjoyed at university was learning something different every day, so that’s what made me look into apprenticeships as I still wanted to work while keeping learning.
I started looking into businesses that were local to me. And in Leeds, and around the Leeds area, Jet2 is known as a major employer offering many different apprenticeships. And the one that stood out to me most was the finance one, especially as you could start it from the beginner’s level. I was interested in doing something where I could start from the bottom, as I didn’t feel like I needed any prior experience but I could still progress up to Level 7.
Where did your interest in finance come from after studying Law and Criminology?
When Jet2 are recruiting for their apprenticeships, they don’t specifically look into your experience in terms of completing a finance degree, for example. There are, of course, the basic requirements to get into an apprenticeship, but what they emphasise is your personal skills and how you handle certain situations.
So, looking back at sixth form and school, I was always good at maths and enjoyed it, so I felt that I’d be able to apply my existing skills to this finance apprenticeship. And the apprenticeship that I’m doing includes CIMA's Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) qualification, which focuses mainly on management accounting. This means that it’s not necessarily just number and maths-focused, there are a lot of parts where you need to communicate or present to different people, and a lot of that I had taken from my previous experience so I felt quite rounded to move into this industry and level.
How would you compare your experience at university to an apprenticeship?
Since I started it, I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I have done for my apprenticeship. I never cared about something so much as I do this, and that goes to prove that it’s what I want to do. At university, my simple ambition was to get through and pass my course, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. Whereas now, as I’m much more passionate about this, I put my all into my exams and my everyday work which is extremely motivating and rewarding.
Have you noticed that you can apply your new skills to your job role?
Yes, 100%, I think it's the right way to go in terms of working and studying at the same time because there’s a lot of pressure at university to jump straight into your career when you have no work experience. You might have the knowledge behind it, but you usually have no practical experience.
I think the further you move on with your studies, the more your everyday job becomes easier and the happier you are to take more things on. I’ve grown in confidence throughout my apprenticeship as I feel a lot happier knowing exactly how to approach new tasks and speak to new people, for example.
Did you have any preconceptions of apprenticeships before looking into them?
I thought that everyone would be straight out of sixth form or be a lot younger than me and that I’d look like the ‘oldest kid in the classroom,’ and I didn’t like that idea. I was really worried that this would set me back, or that I’d be out of the swing of studying because there was a four-year gap between finishing university and starting the apprenticeship.
I also worried that I might struggle to form good relationships with people as they would be quite a lot younger than me, but it’s been so different to what I expected. Most of the apprentices there, especially in finance, are all around the same age as me or older. You have the occasional apprentice that has come straight out of sixth form, but everything that I had initially expected wasn’t necessarily true - but in a good way. And I think any negative thoughts that I had were taken away pretty quickly.
Reflecting on your journey from when you started, how do you think you've developed?
I would say that the main area that I’ve developed is my confidence, especially when it comes to speaking to new people in a business setting. In the beginning, I would be conscious about saying something that might be wrong. Particularly when working in finance, you’re cautious that you don’t want to give incorrect information that could lead to a negative outcome.
I think that the more I’ve learnt, the more confident I’ve become. If someone asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to, I have the confidence to say that I’m not sure and I’ll get back to them when I find out the answer. Before this, I would have panicked and would want to avoid questions, but I don’t have those thoughts anymore. If someone’s asking me something, that means they’ve come to me with the confidence that I know what I’m doing, so that’s definitely one of the things I’ve taken from the apprenticeship.
I’m very happy to accept that it’s not always going to be a smooth journey every day, and some days you will make a mistake, but it’s all just part of being an apprentice - and everyone around me is really supportive of that.
Have you encountered challenges in your apprenticeship?
With my studies at first, because it was something totally different to me, I was a little bit overwhelmed with doing an exam for something that I’ve only just recently covered and I didn’t know what the layout would be. I think it’s something that you need to do once just to know what to expect, as it’s so different to any exams that I’ve done in the past, so I think that was quite challenging at first as I was apprehensive and just assumed I was going to fail it.
Even when I came out of the exam, I thought I had failed it but I went to get my results and I had passed so I had over-thought it. After that, every single one has felt better and my marks have all gone uphill. So I think, sometimes, although studying has felt difficult, it’s probably just because it’s so new to me. And I feel like I’m now improving my grades as well as my confidence.
There are challenges, of course, but I have learnt from them all, which is great for my development.
How has the support been from Kaplan?
It’s been really good, I’m just going through the final stages of my end-point assessment with my Talent Coach. My Talent Coach has been really hands-on and has helped me every day in terms of making sure my portfolio is as good as can be, giving me pointers and tips, and he’ll give me a call if I need to speak about anything.
I’ve also found the tutors really helpful in my course. I started with OnDemand for my first course and then moved on to Live Online. I didn’t know how I was going to find it, but I like how there’s someone there to talk you through it if you need help, and the lectures are recorded so you can watch them as many times as you want. I like that and think there’s been good support from Kaplan.
Do you think it's important to talk about the values of an apprenticeship to people who don't know?
Definitely. I think that mostly everything I’ve learnt about apprenticeships has been since I’ve been here. But as a company, Jet2 is really strong on developing early careers and apprentices and building the business from the core skills that an apprenticeship can teach you. I think a lot of people are surprised at how much the business has grown with the help of apprentices, but this is because they are totally committed to apprenticeships, which is fantastic.
When I tell other people outside of my work that I’m an apprentice, and that I’m learning while working, many are quite surprised that it’s even an option that businesses can implement. I think a lot of companies just don’t even consider that apprenticeships could apply to them. So, I think it’s something that should be shouted about a lot more because it is the way to go to help develop people.
I went to university because I didn’t know what else to do. If I knew that I could do something like this at the age of 18 instead, and work at the same time as studying, then I definitely would have gone down this route.
How did you feel when you won the Kaplan Apprenticeship Award?
I wasn’t expecting it at all. The first I knew about it was when I received the email to say that I’d won. I was so shocked at first, and I sent it through to the person who nominated me. I think it’s nice that I’ve been recognised, but I also like how Jet2 has been recognised for the work that they put into apprenticeships. So, I was really happy and surprised about it.
What are your plans now for the future?
I’m now coming towards the end of my Level 4 apprenticeship, and my plan after this is to move on to my Level 7 qualification. By the end of this, I’ll be fully qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant - so, fingers crossed that everything goes well!
Looking to gain skills for life?
Like Charlotte, you can transform your career with an apprenticeship. Find out more about our apprenticeship programmes, or browse our current vacancies.
Alternatively, you can read more about how to talk to your employer about doing an apprenticeship.
For employers, if you are interested in apprenticeships for your workforce, find out more and contact the team.