1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role is Apprentice Assistant Audit Specialist. However, I am unable to go into much detail regarding my role. What I can say though, is that my role requires analysis of data. On a day to day basis I interact with most members of staff on my team, including my manager as well as casework officers.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Whilst being on my apprenticeship, I have learnt new skills. These skills are related to both training (internally and externally) as well as personal skills.
I have been able to learn skills such as team work, working to a deadline, being competent, being efficient, being punctual. I have also been able to become more concentrated and focused. Internal training has allowed me to understand SQL and databases more than I did before.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I would say I am slowly but surely starting to enjoy my apprenticeship. When we first started, there was nothing but trouble. Nothing was set up correctly, know one knew what was happening, when or where. This, however, was solely down to the training provider, CAPITA, whom had caused these problems.
However, in saying that, I have great team members who are supportive as well as a fantastic manager who has been very understanding during my time here at HMRC. I was unsure on what to expect from the apprenticeship when I accepted it so therefore I could not have any expectations. However, it on past problems, I say that it perhaps wouldn't have met my expectations.
4. How valued do you feel by Civil Service?
I would not say I feel completely valued by HMRC but there have been times when I have felt that my manager has valued and appreciated the hard work I have been putting into my apprenticeship. On two occasions, he has asked me to record my progress on our "Success Register" (a recording system where anything of particular success has been achieved, it is recorded and spoken about/praised in team meetings) so this has made me feel valued in some aspects.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As previously mentioned, at the beginning of the programme, I did not believe that the "structure" would be as bad as it was. My apprenticeship started in January 2016 and we did not start with the NVQ/coursework aspect until late April/early May. This means that we have 3/4 months without any real work to do which was both a waste of the apprentice's time and HMRC's time too.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My training provider has not been very supportive at all. As mentioned, it was down to them that we started late into the coursework. On top of that, my tutor/talent coach is not my original tutor/talent coach. Since my tutor, I have had two other tutors who were not good at all. Now that I have my current tutor, I have received so much help and support from her, even down to marking my work. Within a few hours she has managed to mark the work and provide us with feedback all whilst managing many other students. She has been both friendly and supportive since becoming my tutor and has always been just an email away should I require it. I have enjoyed my tutor being my tutor.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I receive support from my employer when and as needed. As mentioned, my manager has been very understanding and extremely supportive of my apprenticeship, with the past few months, allowing me to work from home on Tuesdays and Fridays in order to complete coursework. Even down to personal problems, my manager has been very supportive. On top of that, one of my colleagues whom I am very close with has become more of a friend rather than a colleague. This has allowed her to support, encourage and be compassionate towards me in regards to both personal issues as well as work.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary is very good for my age/position but there are times when I feel I struggle to manage. As I am based in London, I therefore have the London weighting which provides me with that bit extra compared to outside of London. However, where I live is bordering the outskirts of London and therefore I have to travel from TFL's zones 6 through 1 which makes travelling to work very expensive. On top of this, my apprentice oyster card has now expired and you're only entitled to it for one year, so my fare price has now gone up by another £70 which is a lot of money per month. On top of that, I have two savings accounts which take £500 per month as well as giving money to my mother to help out around the house. My monthly wage of £1700 drops down to £770 within the first few days of receiving my salary. This then has to last me until the end of the month which can sometimes be a struggle, especially if there are events within the month etc. But nonetheless, the salary for my age is still very good.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Whilst there are opportunities outside of work i.e. social events, sporting events, I generally do not take part in these. This is either because they are at inconvenient times or because they do not interest me. When I was not working, I was unemployed and was searching for a job daily.
9. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
HMRC are a fantastic company to work for. Their inclusiveness of staff with many backgrounds i.e. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, disabilities, LGBT+ is beyond amazing with me seeing all of the above in my working environment alone. As well as being inclusive within their members of staff, they also provide very flexible working timetables (Flexi-time, working from home etc) as well as great salaries.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
During the application process for an apprenticeship, there will be 4 online tests which must be completed (and passed in order to reach the assessment day). When completing these, take your time and make sure you read each question carefully.
If you are successful and are invited for an assessment day, make sure you're on time. If you have never traveled to London during peak times, then you will be in for a surprise at just how quickly tubes can get rammed packed as well as how quickly time goes when you're already running late. Once there, be friendly towards other applicants and be yourself. Make sure you ask if you're unsure about anything. During interviews, again be yourself and make sure you listen to questions that are asked. It is fine to take a second to pause and think of an answer. This shows the interviewer that you're breaking it down and figuring out the best possible reply, which shows them you don't just rush into something, you take a step back and think of the best possible answer. Make sure throughout the day that you are friendly and approachable and also involved. Lastly, during the written assessment, make sure you take your time and read through the scenario properly and carefully to make sure you do not miss any important information and just try your best.
This type of advice is what I would have liked to have been told before I applied for my apprenticeship.
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