Adviza employee Lucy Warner recently became the first person ever to complete a Career Development Professional (CDP) apprenticeship. For National Apprenticeship Week, we asked Lucy to reflect on the experience, especially around the challenges she faced and the benefits.

An apprenticeship might be a young person’s first step in their chosen career after school. It could equally be a qualification taken by a professional as a way of gaining more expertise in their field. People of any age can also use apprenticeships as a way to transition into a new career.

I recently completed my CDP apprenticeship, which I found hugely valuable, rewarding and occasionally challenging! For anyone at any stage in their career considering an apprenticeship, here are my takeaways from the experience.

I was lucky to have a great support network

It was hard work completing an apprenticeship within an already-busy role, and with a young toddler to look after. I couldn’t have completed mine without fantastic support from my apprenticeship coach Adrian Pitt of Always Consult, and from everyone in the Adviza team, including my then-manager Monique Smith.

As an apprentice you need a good support team around you, including people you can go to if you have questions. Adrian provided a lot of help, and while his academic support was invaluable, it might have been in his role as a cheerleader, who chivvied me along and kept me motivated, that he helped me most! This was especially true on occasions when my workload became really challenging.

Having decent support at home and a quiet place to study can be critical for an apprentice. Although employers allow time for apprentices to study during working hours, most will have self-directed study that must be completed in their own time. I was lucky that I had a lot of support at work and home. My toddler even slept for obligingly convenient periods of time!

Structured support was important

I discussed my progress as part of my regular one-to-one meetings with my manager. This included identifying colleagues I could approach at work if I had specific questions, and opportunities for additional study that would help with my apprenticeship. I also had a monthly one-to-one with my coach, where we discussed my progress and any tasks and assignments for the next unit of my course. Where prescribed by the syllabus, our meetings were “professional discussions”, a planned, in-depth discussion that is a form of formal assessment.

Where I could, I chose assessments that worked for me

Everyone has their preferred form of assessment and whenever I was able to choose between a written assignment or a professional discussion I chose the discussion. I knew part of the end-point assessment at the end of my apprenticeship would take the form of a professional discussion, so it seemed wise to get comfortable with the format.

I had to structure my time

During my apprenticeship my schedule became very structured because I had to make the most of my time. I did my day job and had monthly meetings with my coach. I could fit some study time into my working week and my progress was structured into my appraisals and one-to-one meetings with my manager. The Adviza team provided fantastic further support whenever I needed it. I also dedicated a couple of evenings per week to my apprenticeship: I would finish work, have my tea and sit down for two or three hours to study.

My research project has added value

For my research project--a key aspect of the CDP apprenticeship--I wanted to choose a topic relevant to my role that would benefit Adviza and our customers. I investigated how Adviza could further develop our digital delivery of careers guidance. The relevance and practicality of the project made it a really important part of my studies, and it has helped Adviza to innovate further. I am now Digital Services Lead here, where I help ensure we can support our customers (young people and adults) just as effectively remotely as we can face to face.

The advantages of apprenticeships

As someone already experienced within my field, the greatest advantage of my apprenticeship was that there was no gap between theory and practice. I could research something and apply it the next day. I was (and am) surrounded by people who are experts in their field, with a huge variety of experience to draw on. This gave me a big pool of knowledge to tap into for my studies.

I’m delighted I was able to take the CDP apprenticeship with Adviza, and it was a privilege to be among the first cohort to study it.


Interested in doing an apprenticeship? See our apprenticeships top tip blog