Denise Antwi, 21, London
I had no idea that Lucozade had a business headquarters where all these job roles were available. When Apprentice Nation set up a work experience day, I knew I wanted to attend. I had such a great day and learned so much that when the job came up, I thought I’d give it a shot. I really enjoyed the interview process which was more of a chat really, but I was still so stunned when I got the call to say I’d got the job!
I love Apprentice Nation and I feel so grateful to them. People ask me about the platform a lot and they can’t believe that it’s free! Apprentice Nation is helping to shape a generation.
How did you find Apprentice Nation?
I didn’t do well at school and I ended up getting really bad grades. My school suggested that I go to a workshop in the summer called Making The Leap and that’s when I came across Apprentice Nation. My school didn’t have any of this information. They were only interested in promoting university and I was so sure there was more to life than that.
I think it’s really important to find a place that values what you’re going to do. For me, I just needed a bit of direction and guidance with the right steps.
Why do you think you had to dig so deep?
I felt very pressured to go to uni and I really didn’t want to go. I didn’t know what other options I had. It’s very hard, especially from a low income family, to spend time researching what else is out there. For me, I went straight into retail because I had to help out my family financially. I didn’t have time to look up what companies are out there to support young people.
Even for my sister, who’s currently in college, it’s still the same. I don’t understand why schools are not investing. I get that higher education is important but not everyone wants to go the same route. I had several friends who went to university and then they just dropped out to do an apprenticeship. They’d have been better off having that support from Apprentice Nation earlier on.
What was the impact of the pandemic on your career journey?
Before the pandemic, I had an apprenticeship already lined up. But then it got postponed for a year. I already knew I would not be allowed to just sit at home for a year, so I went into retail.
I was working 30-40 hours to make enough money but when I got home I was so exhausted, I didn’t have the energy to look around for an alternative; let alone make an application. I feel like Covid was very challenging from a motivational perspective. I was always questioning myself about my choices and doubting myself.
How important is it to keep networking?
Young people forget how important it is to network. You meet people who are fifty and think how great they are, then you forget how great you are too! I remember going to a networking event and meeting this lady who then remembered me when I was applying for my apprenticeship the second time around. She really encouraged me to not give up and boosted my confidence.
How did Apprentice Nation help and support you on your journey?
Apprentice Nation exposed me to opportunities that I didn’t know were available. For example, I had no idea that Lucozade had a head office – I just thought they had a factory where the drinks got made! I had no idea what jobs would be available behind the scenes.
Apprentice Nation also really helped me to get clarity when I had two opportunities on the table. Hearing stories about what you could do and where that could lead to was so helpful.
I’m so glad that I watched all the on demand videos and earned enough credits to meet Ray BLK. Hearing her advice first-hand was amazing. Speaking to other professionals in non-traditional pathways has also been so inspiring. It really boosted my self-belief.
How did you find the mentor sessions?
I’ve found the mentor sessions to be the most valuable element of my Apprentice Nation journey. In school I thought I wanted to do marketing. I did try it out and also had a conversation with a mentor about this and it saved me! If I’d gone to do it at Uni, that would have been a complete waste of my time.
Can you tell us about your journey to Lucozade?
I was coming to the end of my marketing apprenticeship and my boss offered to keep me on. However, even with the financial security that would bring, I knew it wasn’t right for me so I started doing youth work – I was a youth leader in my church which I really enjoyed. Then I had the opportunity to visit Lucozade Headquarters and I absolutely loved it.
Then I saw the job opportunity come up at Lucozade via Apprentice Nation. I thought I’d give it a shot and apply. I got invited for an interview and then I had to wait a while until I got the call to say they were offering me the job. I was so stunned!
So now I have a level 3 apprenticeship and I also work here, and I love it!
The interview for my job at Lucozade
My role is mainly making content, so I had to show them the kind of content I’d already produced and they were really impressed by it. They asked me what my skills were and what I could bring to the team; things like, am I comfortable in getting into bigger projects – which I like because I enjoy being thrown in at the deep end. They also asked about community projects. It was mainly a conversation and a chat. It didn’t feel like a really formal interview which was nice.
What does your current role involve?
My day-to-day involves a lot of content creation whether that’s for newsletters or the company intranet. I also help organise events and wellbeing sessions for employees too. I love it.
What are your plans for the future?
I really want to present and host events and inspire other young people. I recently spoke at the Apprentice Nation event at Lucozade about my journey and I really enjoyed that. I also went back to my old summer school and told my story to the new people coming in. It can be so daunting leaving school and you might feel that if you don’t go to university, your life is over. That’s just not true. You don’t have to be in one career for your whole life. I’m really passionate about young people taking time to look into their career choices.
Youth Advisors Network
I joined the Youth Advisor’s Network which was the best experience ever. I was so grateful to meet up with like-minded people. Having that relatable group to hang out with really gave me the confidence to step out into the world and believe that there would be others out there like me. It was such an exciting feeling to know that there were other people out there who shared my goals.I still keep in touch with a couple of other members too.
If your lifestyle could be represented in a music artist or track, what would it be and why?
Ray BLK: Doing Me
I believe that I am growing into my own person through recognising who and what I want to be! I may take untraditional paths here and there, but I will not be apologetic about ‘doing me’.
Denise’s Top Tips to Navigate Your Career Journey
- Take time to spend time by yourself and figure out what you want.
- It’s very easy to let the time fly by and just go with what’s around you or what’s right in front of you.
- It’s really important to figure out what you like and don’t like
- Speak to people who can help you figure those things out – like Apprentice Nation!
- If it’s for you it will come. Believe that.
- Believe in your source – believe that you can do it.
- If you’re asked about your skills, use what you have, adapt to the role if people ask you about your experience.