Millie Higginbottom, 19, London
Finishing school in a global pandemic brought a lot of uncertainty, but the apprenticeship route turned out to be a great option for Millie, who is now enjoying her role as a Human Resources Apprentice with Morgan Stanley. Taking part in Apprentice Nation helped her to identify her strengths and define her career path. She continues to make the most of networking opportunities to make meaningful connections and loves to share her experiences to support others going through early-career challenges.
The Youth Advisors Network group sessions have made me more mindful about my purpose at work and day-to-day. I discovered that I thoroughly enjoy learning and continuously improving myself and in doing this, it helps me to support others too. Since the sessions, I have signed up to several initiatives at work and within my apprenticeship community, to share my advice and experience with others, in the hope that they will feel inspired to take up new opportunities or sign up to an apprenticeship too!
Since my mentor session with Kema Davies, UK Early Careers Recruiter at Microsoft, I have felt more confident within my role and have been carrying her advice with me throughout my journey. The session made me feel more positive and self-aware of my capabilities and even when I feel nervous, I ‘feel the fear’ which is something Kema really helped me accept; that fear is a good thing! Through this shift in mindset, I have presented to my team several times and embraced fear rather than letting it hold me back.
The Skills Hub has loads of really helpful content too. The ‘Make It Work for You’ live session helped me to define my strengths and how to apply them within a working environment. Now in my apprenticeship, I have used my interpersonal skills to widen my network and maintain strong relationships with stakeholders, which is a really important part of project management. This has set me aside from the crowd, as I am knowledgeable of the value I add and I can explain this, which is what employers look for.
The ‘How to Successfully Network’ Short Set was really helpful, especially starting my apprenticeship remotely and struggling to make meaningful connections virtually. This session really helped me learn how to reach out to colleagues, peers and other apprentices and build meaningful connections and maintain those. By building a strong network, I have received more opportunities at work and outside within the apprentice community, to really further progress myself and my skills.
What career most interests you? Where has that interest come from?
I am really fixated on a career in HR, either within financial services or retail. When I was in year 10, I tried out an online quiz to see what career my skills were best matched to. I remember seeing HR as the most suitable role for me and not knowing what it entailed. So I went away and further researched HR roles and even got some work experience in the industry. That was when I decided that HR was the direction I wanted to go in.
Have you spoken with your family or friends about Apprentice Nation or alternative career paths?
I have a little sister, who is in her final year of secondary school, and I am constantly praising apprenticeships and encouraging her to look into them. My family clearly see my enthusiasm towards apprenticeships and are completely supportive and proud.
What challenges have you faced in shaping your future or at college?
At my sixth form, there wasn’t any guidance given about alternatives to university; it seemed that the normal route was to attend university then begin working. This lack of guidance really challenged me to independently seek apprenticeship opportunities and do the research. I felt really lucky to find companies like Multiverse and Apprentice Nation who provide insight into apprenticeships and the skills required.
How has 2020 and the impact of COVID changed your perspective on your career and future?
As a school leaver in the midst of a global pandemic, I was really anxious about securing an apprenticeship and whether companies would still want to take apprentices on in that climate. Not only that, but even if I got an apprenticeship, would I enjoy the remote working environment? However, since starting in my apprenticeship, I have felt connected to my colleagues, despite having virtual coffees! It has changed my idea of needing to work at the office, as I receive the same level, if not more support, working from home. Although, it does make me wonder whether the way of working will ever return to how it used to be.
Has your confidence ever got in the way of going for an opportunity or pursuing a goal?
Confidence is something I am trying to get better at every day. I find that when starting a new job, imposter syndrome becomes more apparent, and it can create a lot of self-doubt in your head. At the start of my apprenticeship, opportunities of a new project were discussed within our meetings and they were often put forward for someone to volunteer to lead. I remember thinking ‘I’m just an apprentice’ or ‘I won’t do a good job’ and it prevented me several times from leaping at those chances. However, lately I am trying to throw myself into things without any judgement at first and so far it is working!
When I’m feeling demotivated, I surround myself with people who make me feel appreciated. I find it helps to schedule in time with someone I admire. For me, this is my manager; I love to listen to their advice on my current situation and they also normalise my feelings.
Millie’s Top Tips if you’re feeling demotivated:
- Schedule time with someone you admire at work and who understands you.
- Outside of work, this could be a partner, family member or friend, just someone who listens to you actively, rather than passively and values your feelings. I find receiving support from a trusted person reminds you of your worth and can motivate you for the rest of the day!
- Look out for opportunities online to learn and get motivated – such as Apprentice Nation. Sometimes, taking part in a webinar or watching a video can not only give you a few tips, but also inspire you on your journey and boost your motivation.