Assignment Aftermath

So a I recently submitted my very first assignment for my apprenticeship and the result came back in today aaaaaaaaand…

That’s right! My hard work and efforts scored a whopping 100% mark!! I’m genuinely shocked given I haven’t written an assignment since 2015. But this isn’t a time to be smug or cocky and by no means rest on my laurels. While most will be partying away this weekend, this apprentice will be spending his time on his next assignment to make another high grade!

I had some great support behind me for this and I thank those involve entirely.

Until next time

Stress: Encouraging Calm, Tranquillity & Relaxation

Please note that this post will include gifted items from Feather & Down.

You know it’s no surprise that I am stressed. I have a full-time career with side-by-side studies. On top of this I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle with healthy eating, exercise, 8 hours of sleep as well as keeping up a social life to match. Needless to say that even in 2019 this just isn’t quite doable for everyone, especially me!

Given that I wrote this on Easter Sunday after consuming 2 Cadbury Easter eggs, 1 creme egg, a bag of Freddo Faces, 125g of chocolate covered raisins and a pint of pink gin and lemonade (classy, I know) I can pretty much scratch out healthy lifestyle and social life.

But when I’m back to the reality of working and keeping the balance, stress most definitely creeps in and does a number on me. And as such the effects of stress have been known to sneak in and cause all levels of havoc! From snacking on processed foods to causing a bit of a moment at work, stress is that beast who likes to drop in from a great height and cause some damage!

So how have I been dealing with it? Well, I haven’t had a chance to talk to friends about things, so I’ve incorporated a few new products into my life from Feather & Down, encouraging calm, tranquillity and relaxation.

At the base of their range, Feather & Down use lavender and chamomile essential oils which are renowned for their clamming and relaxation properties. Lavender, along with chamomile, has a strong relief for those who suffer with depression and anxiety, as well as tackling sleep conditions such as insomnia. In addition to this, chamomile may also benefit heart health and PMS.

Now I’m not gonna lie, I’m not keen on the scent of lavender oil. I find it over powering and almost metallic which has often caused a headache – ironically! And I also felt that chamomile had no scent, and most certainly has no taste in tea. But Feather & Down have somehow created the right balance of scent to waft a gentle aroma to neutralise the nerves and sooth the soul.

So how did we meet? Well…

Late 2018, during the two weeks before I started my new job, I was struggling with my stress levels greatly which resulted in me getting no more than 4 hours of sleep a night. And to add insult to injury, house moving/adjustments/crap-I-don’t-need-right-now has been happening and so that just adds to the stress and pressures. Stressures as I call them.

But around this time, I was fortunate to be sent a card and some gifts from my friend Sophie at Something So True. Amongst the goodies was a Feather & Down Sweet Dreams Perfect Partners Set which included a Pillow Spray and roll on.

This was the gift of the year for me. Now, normally it takes around 20-30 minutes for me to get to sleep as my brain needs to sort through the day before I can settle down. I sprayed the spray 3 times and watched the glistening mist disappear into my pillow. With a little bit of scepticism I honestly thought “is this really going to work”. Within 5 minutes I must have died or something because I was OUT. And to add to that, I slept through the night. I NEVER sleep through the night. EVER.

Let me repeat all that:


So, of course, I had to let both Sophie and the folk at Feather & Down know. After an exchange of “you’re amazing I love you(s)” with Sophie, I was put in contact with Feather & Down where I bombarded the poor lady with the following:

“My lovely friend Sophie from SomethingSoTrue messaged me that she mentioned my joy from the Feather & Down goodies she sent me. Today I started my new job and the last 3 weeks have been VERY stressful what with the transition between jobs as well as ensuring the best for everyone involved.

Due to this stress, my nighttime schedule was destroyed with sleep being less than 4 hours. My brain was working to his limit and it was agonising. So when I sprayed the pillow spray, I was DEAD to the world within minutes (a new record) and had my first 8-hour sleep in ages!! I’ve been using the roll on to work and this too has helped me to remain chill.

Anywho, I hope you’re well and have a lovely week!!”

After a few more exchanges, I was gifted the most fantastic and fabulous bundle of goods from the Feather & Down range!

In this bundle, we received an exquisite Sweet Dreams Calming Candle which has a subtle scent of lavender and chamomile. For me, I don’t light scented candles at first. I let their natural scent envelope the room naturally. Then, when this settles down (which can take a few weeks/months) I light it on those times I need a little extra comfort.

I also received another bottle of the Sweet Dreams Pillow Spray.



In addition to this, we have the Sweet Dreams Relaxing Reed Diffuser. Similar to the candle, the reed will diffuse lavender and chamomile essential oils, helping to create a welcoming and relaxing environment in your home, or even in the office. Here’s looking at all the Karen’s in finance on payroll submission day. And in my job, I should probably gift one of these to the department thanks to my efforts…

And finally we have the Feather & Down Sleep Essentials Travel Set. Am I the only one who loves his own bed and finds another one like a whole new world?! Whenever I go away I always finding myself fighting to shut my brain off. I can’t even say it’s a nightmare because I can’t even bloomin sleep! So it’s going to be interesting to try this on my next escape. In this bundle, we have a Pillow Spray, an All Purpose Sleep Balm, a jar of Sleep Butter and a Melting Shower Cream. I’ve tried the Melting Shower Cream and ughhhh I LOVE it! It has a nice texture which comforts the skin and there is a delicate scent with every intake of breath. I can’t wait to take these away on my next trip!

The full range can be found at Feather & Down’s website or in Boots where I’ve seen most of it on a 3 for 2 offer quite a few times! And just in case you were wondering, the range is paraben, sulphate and mineral oil free and made in England and never have and never will be tested on animals! What’s not to love!!

I have been using these for the past few months and have seen significant improvements to my both my sleep cycle and my mental health. I use my roll on almost every day to keep me chill at work, especially when going into large meetings where at any moment attention could be brought to me. I keep it at the front of my stationary pot on my desk!

As for my sleep, whenever I’ve had a day that has ruined me I spray a few mists to help settle my minds and send me off to dreamworld. I sometimes I spray this on before I leave the house so as to inhale throughout the day to keep me chill. And it so works!

I would strongly advise you to consider the Feather & Down range. It’s a tough world out there for the youth of today, for anyone for that matter, and there’s no shame in seeking a little help from some top notch products like these. I’ve experienced no negative side effects and I cannot praise them enough.

If you want further information on distressing, relaxing and a better nights kip then head over to Feather & Down where you’ll find product news, information and support to help you get back to you.

Until next time

What is an Apprenticeship?

When people hear the word apprentice they think different things. They think of school leavers who will take up an underpaid role to become an electrician, hairdresser or even a mechanic. Some may even be aware of the wide number of apprenticeships happening within universities in areas such as mechanical engineering, pharmacy and IT. Even Disney got in on the act back in 1940. In fact, when I told my 6 year old nephew I got a new job, the conversation went as follows:

Nephew: what are you doing now?
Me: I’m going to be an apprentice
To myself internally: I wish buddy, I wish

What you don’t necessarily think of is a 27 year old who already went to university for 5 years and who is fully qualified for other industries. Nevertheless, here I proudly am!

So what is an apprenticeship?

I guess the most basic way I could put it is an apprenticeship is like having more than just a foot in the door while being up-skilled in the process. It’s like being at college/university but without the bad parts and you get paid.

But if we are to go into more detail, an apprentice is employed at a business where they will perform the same role as their colleagues, while being up-skilled, gaining knowledge they can apply to their role in real time. The learning is a combination of onsite/in the role practical work with a teaching element attached, usually one day a week. This teaching may take place in a local college or in your place of work, mine is the latter.

At the end of the apprenticeship the apprentice will become qualified in their field of study and (usually) have a permanent contract with the business with a salary to match.

Why would you take an apprenticeship?

Good question (that you never asked). I have been asked so many questions in fact, including:

  • Aren’t you a bit old? (rude)
  • Didn’t you already go to university? (your point being?)
  • I bet you just make the teas (and the coffees, don’t forget the coffees)
  • The pay can’t be great (I’m happier being healthy than wealthy)
  • Why did you choose to do one? (I kinda didn’t choose to)
  • What do you do? (what DON’T I do?!)
  • But are you really happy doing this? (I haven’t been this happy in years!)

To be fair to the first question, most people take an apprenticeship after GCSEs and completing school. Those fresh, malleable minds are still supple enough to be trained so an employer can create the perfect employee for their company. But when you’re a bit long in the tooth like yours truly, you have to show that you’re still adaptable and able to learn new things else you’re likely to be dismissed. While that is discrimination, facts are facts.

Many people apply for apprenticeships because they hate the thought of being in school any longer or that they know their chosen career could be achieved with an apprenticeship as opposed to other routes. It could be that they never received the grades needed for university or quite simply didn’t want to go to university. Whatever a persons choice for their career path is their own and support should always be there for them.

And with a wide range of apprenticeships now available, the pressures that were there when I was in school would have melted away had I been given this opportunity. I personally took up an apprenticeship for a few reasons.

  • I wanted to take my career seriously alongside my current qualifications
  • I wanted to work in an organisation that would respect and support me
  • I wanted to prove to myself my time at university wasn’t a waste
  • I wanted to be happy and get out of the bad place

Most importantly I applied for the role because, as someone who loves learning and continual personal development, this was what I was looking for. It wasn’t necessarily in the industry I’m now in but with my current role being inline with where my skills lie and the department I work in itself, it just all seems to fit perfectly with what I want to do.

I love my job and I cannot wait to get in every morning. I have great support behind me and I’m encouraged to develop my skills and eventually, if I choose, I can progress without anyone standing in my way. I finally have what I’ve been looking for and it’s everything to me.

Before my apprenticeship, I worked in a role (and for a company) that was stifling my skills and abilities and refused to support me further. I habitually asked for further development and training and was consistently knocked down. The fact that it was a shock to them when I handed in my notice was just insult to injury I think. However, I shall leave them to sit in their blissful ignorance… Ooo he sounds bitter (lol)

What are some of the pros to doing an apprenticeship?

As much as I loved doing my degree, I didn’t get to do the field learning aspect*. The great thing about an apprenticeship over university is that you’re learning the key skills and material needed to apply to the role in real time, understanding more about the why and how.

You’re getting paid to work and study in the career you want. I get that at university you get paid but not only do you have to pay that back it’s not that much to live off of, with most of it going on accommodation, so you have to seek out employment to support you, employment which probably won’t aid your search for the career you want. I can assure you that no one is interested in a Master Bear Builder from Build-A-Bear Workshop to put together a presentation on the fiscal year to date for the department leads.

You get to meet with a wide range of people who may influence your role and career, helping you to learn and develop new skills and build a network of professionals. I mean if I play my cards right I could end up being the next department director! Can. You. Imagine! To my colleagues who shuddered at the thought,

What are some of the cons to doing an apprenticeship?

Well an obvious one is the fact that I’m being payed much less than my colleagues for doing the same role and completing coursework alongside it. While I admit that I knew that going in, it’s still a kick in the teeth. My colleague even said “it’s the role that’s graded and the salary is set so to give someone a higher or lower salary just doesn’t seem right” – this was in reference to another role but the statement carries. To be honest, I don’t find this an issue at the moment. My finances are set that I’m comfortable. I then get to joy of a LOVELY pay rise when I fit into the official role. That’s my motivation.

Finding the time to complete work work and apprenticeship assignments can be a struggle. I personally cannot writer an essay in a room full of chatter, ringing phones and tapping keyboards. I need my own space and comforts to blast out an assignment and I just can’t do that at my desk. Thankfully my manager is soooo amazing (inside joke) that she has told me I am welcome to switch off and go to a quiet space to do my work and has reassured me that if I need any support it’s ready and available, I just need to ask.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not being taken seriously. Not only am I new to the industry but I’m also new to the entire construct of the organisation I work for. Now I can categorically say I love my job, I love where I work and I love the people I work with. However, there are others that I come into contact with who I can just tell by their body language and tone of voice that I’m “just an apprentice” in their eyes. If anything it stifles my work and hinders my job. If I’m asking a question, teach, don’t disregard me. In short, just treat me with the respect you give my coworkers, OK.

Where can I find out more information about apprenticeships?

I mean you’re probably not asking that question. It’s 2019 and you know how to use Google. BUT to be fair, there are over 77,500,000 sites; I just checked (23/04/2019). So here are a few sites you may want to check out:

  • The UK Government site have a nifty space for information
    • Plus you can search for apprenticeships here
  • UCAS don’t just support entry into university, they can also help with apprenticeships
  • Scotland also have a dedicated service for apprenticeship learning
  • Prospects also provide in depth information to help you learn more about apprenticeships and where to find one
  • You can also find a whole heap of apprenticeships via NotGoingToUni

And I think that is that. I’m no expert on apprenticeships. I never even knew you could get them outside of the labour industry so that was a big eye opener. I would strongly recommend checking out those links above as I honestly thought I was going to be sitting in a class once a week with a bunch of 16 year olds asking myself where my life went wrong. I hope this has been an insight for you and until next time

*You see with the SHOCKING A Level results I received, no placement would take me, not even a graduate scheme after completing my degree because I didn’t have As and Bs at a level. Let that sink in for a moment. If you’re wondering how I was fortunate to go to university in the first place, I got onto my first course under a technicality in which the course was still new and being trialled so the requirements were low. I then transferred to the second degree, which I completed.

Welcome to the Apprenticeship Diaries

Well hello there and welcome! Thank you for stumbling along onto my blog and taking the time to pique your interest. Either that or you’ve scrolled through hundreds of other blogs and haplessly ended here. Regardless of your route to me, welcome!

It’s only customary to introduce oneself and their blog. It helps give you a brief overview as to whether or not you’re wasting your time and should just scroll through to the next one. You get me?

I am currently working in Human Resources (HR) taking an apprenticeship to develop my skills to become a Recruitment Resource with In-House Talent Acquisition. In short, I’m being skilled up to seek out candidates across the world and direct them to key career opportunities within the organisation I work for. Fun! The “fun” element being that I perform a full time job while I spend 1 day a week on assignments, research and other such activities that can be relevant to my career as a recruiter. Again, fun!

To be honest with you it actually is fun for me. You see I’m not a sit still kinda guy and I need to be kept active. With the way my brain works, I have to keep myself engaged and focused else I get bored, disillusioned and can quite simply fall into a downward spiral of meh attitude. And with the programme I have in place, there’s no time for stopping and that’s just how I like it!!

So what are the apprenticeship diaries? Well to put it simply, this blog will host the stories of my career as an apprentice and hopefully the times thereafter. To be honest, I don’t know how I could put it not so simply.

I don’t have a direct framework or plan of how this will go but I am sure that’s something that could play into my favour. You see I’m not new to blogging but I’m not a fan of routine and structure when it comes to blogging full stop.

Afterall there are two types of bloggers: professional and personal.

A professional blogger will tap away at the keyboard for a living, making the effort to schedule posts and take pictures to accompany them. They’ll have a range of gear to support them and a host of connections that they fought tooth and nail to get. These people are deities amongst the blogging community and they are a pleasure to work with when their egos are firmly in place *all tea, all shade*.

A personal blogger is someone who blogs because it’s a passion. They love writing for and socialising with others. Their content is lovely and unique and while they aspire to make it their full-time career, they lack the confidence or understanding of how to do so. There is tea here but no shade. I know many more people in this bracket than the former and they are without a doubt the kindest, most supportive, most important people in the blogosphere. Without them, blogging would have died years ago. They are absolute stars!

Going forward my aims are simple:

  • Tell my story
  • Enjoy the experience of the highs, lows and the in-betweens
  • Support others curiosity in taking up an apprenticeship
  • Educate and shed a light into what an apprenticeship is and does

In addition to this, I have hopes of reminding myself with each post why I am doing this, why I’m doing an apprenticeship at a somewhat late stage in life and where I want to take myself and my career.

I hope you stay along for the ride and feel free to like, share and subscribe