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A Q&A with former apprentice Sulejman, to support National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2022



It’s National Apprenticeship Week from 7-14 February, to support #NAW2022 we’ve spoken to some of our apprentices about their experiences with the apprenticeship scheme and how it helped them find their path professionally here at Origin. First up we've got an apprenticeship Q&A with our Data Services Team members, Sulejman and his manager Fola.

How did you choose your apprenticeship? 

Sulejman Halilaj– after college I was a bit unsure of what to do. I completed BTEC level three in sport because I always enjoyed studying and playing football. I knew that my career prospects were limited so I looked to do something that could help me apply for a job or apprenticeship.

I decided to do a Level Two customer service course for two months with Tottenham Hotspur. This gave me a basis to apply for an apprenticeship in an Office Environment.
I searched online and found a few places, I got much more confident with my interview skills and eventually saw the role at Origin through, Apprenticeship Connect. I applied at the end of 2019 and was really happy to be successful. 

What was your first week like?

It was great! One of my favourite/most important parts of work is my team. I’ve got a really helpful manager and a colleague who was incredible at teaching me things and helping me settle in.

I immediately met lots of different colleagues and felt welcome. I had to learn how data works and use Excel to an advanced level – learning new formulas and expanding my knowledge.

It was challenging getting used to speaking to residents at times because I hadn't done it before but further down the line, I began getting more comfortable with residents on the phone. All of the training was straightforward to complete and helped me understand Origin's policies and procedures.

What’s the most valuable skill you’ve learnt?

My technical skills - a deep knowledge of data and using CRM platforms. I’ve learned to value working in a team and working alongside supportive colleagues and having a good personal connection and positive energy has been great. Before I started work I thought I’d be left alone to work on things, but having a team to support me is brilliant. Football banter and general discussions between the team maintain a positive team culture and always help us enjoy ourselves!

Do you have any advice for would-be apprentices?

Definitely go for it. There was always a perception that I should go to Uni or I would struggle to get a good career. I wasn’t keen on the idea of extended study and preferred doing more 'hands-on' jobs where I could learn while gaining work experience. If you aren’t sure and you don’t know what to do, but find the idea of University daunting an apprenticeship is great. Take a bit of time to think about what you want to do; an apprenticeship long term might be much more beneficial than a job in retail. Apprenticeships are great as you'll have a qualification at the end of your course!

Where do you see yourself in 18 months?

I don’t like looking too far ahead – I just want to develop myself every day. I want to keep developing my skills and moving forward. Exploring more advanced data and improving is my focus.

What is the one most important thing your apprenticeship taught you?

Confidence in myself. When I joined, I didn’t know how I’d be treated, but with the backing of a good manager and team, you gain that confidence quickly.

From the manager's perspective, what has been the most rewarding thing about having an apprentice on your team?

Fola Akinrowo, Data Services Manager: For me, the biggest impact is changing someone’s life. Adding value. Taking someone from a position where they were struggling. Investing my time and seeing someone’s life-changing. He’s now a fully-fledged data person.

What have you learned from having an apprentice on the team – either in your role or as a manager?

You need time to invest in people, it’s an investment. Sulejman was my first experience as an apprentice. It’s very rewarding, but you need patience and time to ensure it’s a success. Lots of patience and looking over the journey is very rewarding for the manager and apprentice.

What has been the biggest benefit of having an apprentice on your team?

Now Sulejman is in a role and seeing the transformation over time, the team has someone at the end of the scheme. We realised Sulejman can hold his own working with data and progressing professionally. We’re now confident across the team that Sulejman can now work independently and work well for the best outcome. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Adding value for Origin and adding value for our apprentice through investing in their skills. You should support their skills and training, exams, and professional development. Compromise needs to exist – flexibility.