13 October 2023

My Journey From Apprentice To Assistant Manager

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It’s no secret that apprenticeships are a great way to launch a career. In fact, 90% of apprentices go into work or further training after completing an apprenticeship, and two-thirds get hired permanently by their employer.

We caught up with Cleo, an Assistant Manager at Toolstation, who started their career as an apprentice. They gave us a rundown of how their apprenticeship skyrocketed their career. 

My name is Cleo. I am a 28 years old non-binary individual, an Assistant Manager at Toolstation Northwich, and a member of the Diversity board for Travis Perkins, the company that owns Toolstation.

I’ve been with Toolstation for over five years, and I have completed two apprenticeships and passed both with a distinction mark.

The first apprenticeship was a Customer Service Apprenticeship, which I did as a Senior Store Assistant. I then moved on to complete a Level 3 Management course.

What made you choose an apprenticeship over going to university or other avenues? What were the key benefits for you?

I left college at 18 with my A Levels and decided to go straight into working life. I wanted to make money. I had a few jobs before working at Toolstation, but none offered me an apprenticeship.

With Toolstation, the apprenticeship was free to take, and I could make money whilst learning. I always enjoyed learning, so it seemed a great idea.

How did you find the transition from school / college to working life? What key skills did you need to adapt to this change?

It was a change working compared to being at school and college as you work later than 4PM. I’d say an essential skill you need is to make sure you are organised and have a routine. If you don’t have a routine, it can make your working day much harder.

Toolstation opened in 2003 and now has 550 stores all over the UK. Whether it’s tools of machinery, Toolstation sell a whopping 25,000 products – and counting! 

What would a day in the life of your apprenticeship look like?

At Toolstation, we would work as well as learn. You would be learning on the job, doing tasks related to what you are learning at the moment of the course.

For example, I was learning about team organisation. So I organised the rota for the week. I was learning how to organise my team according to strengths and create a good rota if I needed to do one when my manager was off work.

How did you prepare for your assessment days/ interviews? Any top tips to share with our readers?

With Toolstation, you don’t need to do any interviews/assessment days for the apprenticeships, as you can apply for these when you have been with the company for about six months.

Before my initial interview, I re-read the job description and looked into Toolstation’s history to learn about the company. I also visited the local branch to see how the company worked first-hand. This is great to do before any interview. 

Do you feel that your apprenticeship has provided great opportunities for progression?

My apprenticeship has helped me progress as a person and as a management team member. Before the Level 3 Management course, I wasn’t very good at difficult discussions with my team or customers.

However, I developed the skills needed to combat these difficult discussions. I am hoping to do the Level 4 management course with Toolstation.

What’s the best thing about working for your company?

I like the people and appreciate the opportunities that they have given me. I started as a store assistant working 20 hours, and now I’m an Assistant Manager. I’ve made some lifelong friends at Toolstation, so it’s a great company to work for.