Choose Cumbria
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10 minutes with… CN Group apprentice Jen Reay

Published on: Thursday 2nd March 2017

Jen Reay, 20, from Carlisle has just taken on a Business Admin apprenticeship with CN Group – the award-winning media company behind Choose Cumbria. As an apprentice, Jen is keen to make an impact on the business and develop a range of valuable skills.

Choose Cumbria chatted to Jen about her experience of an apprenticeship in Cumbria so far and her future career plans.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship at CN Group?

“I’d worked for CN Group part-time with The Cumberland News for around a year, and really enjoyed it. They were looking for a full-time member of staff, so they suggested an apprenticeship to me and I was very interested.

“I was taking a different career path as a qualified teaching assistant, but I realised that I was enjoying my time at CN Group a lot more.

“I sat down and discussed the opportunity with Beth, my manager, and it went from there. It worked out for the best for everyone involved.

“Working at CN Group gave me a new perspective and changed my plans for the future completely. I’m happier with the decision I’ve made for my career, as I know I want to work in business, complete this apprenticeship and then climb higher.”

What does your apprenticeship entail?

“I’m doing a Business Admin apprenticeship at Level 3, which I’m hoping to complete by the end of December.

“I have monthly targets for each assignment, but the length of time taken on each can be determined by me and could take up to 18 months.

“I go to Carlisle College on a Tuesday but it’s up to me to take control of my learning, a bit like studying at university.

“At the beginning of the apprenticeship, I met with my tutor to plan my modules. There are five mandatory units which I’m working through at the moment and then I got to pick the other ones and set targets.

“My tutor comes in every 12 weeks to assess what I’m doing at work, so I have to collect evidence to fit in with my units.

“I’m currently working on a topic about negotiating in business, so I’ve got to use examples from my own work, such as negotiating with different customers on prices or negotiating with suppliers. I’m also creating a business document around subscriptions for Cumbria Life magazine.

“One unit I’ve chosen means that I’ll get to explore other parts of the business, which is really good.

“My education is tailored for exactly how CN Group wants it to be and how I want to work with the company.”

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?

“With an apprenticeship, you can learn while you’re earning and I think it gives you a perspective of adult life. I feel like I’m better set up for work as I’m learning skills on the job and gaining practical knowledge.

“I’d advise younger people to consider an apprenticeship straight away if they don’t want to go to university and don’t want to go to college for the sake of it.

“It’s sometimes hard to know exactly which career path you want to take, so it’s good to get practical knowledge and see what you enjoy the most.

“There are so many variations on an apprenticeship, so it gives you a wider view of what you could do and focuses on transferrable skills which you could use in a range of careers.”

What benefits can you bring to the business as an apprentice?

“A lot of businesses don’t really understand modern apprenticeships and how it can benefit them, but it can benefit them in so many ways.

“With my apprenticeship, CN Group can target my learning around what’s going to benefit me in my role and the business as a whole.

“With the different units I take, I’m going to be much more involved in the business. If there are progression opportunities in the future, I’ll know a lot about CN Group and be qualified and tailored exactly to what the company needs.”

What are your future career plans at this stage?

“Once I’ve completed my apprenticeship, I’d like to work for a couple of years at the same level or a bit higher if possible, just to make sure I fully understand my role at this level before progressing further.

“I also want to go travelling in the future, but I’d always come back to Cumbria and I’d like to do further qualifications.

“You can still take on an apprenticeship when you’re older, so I’d like to do something at a Diploma level.”

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