Celebrating Success || Apprenticeships

“I’ve loved every minute of it and my achievements have been celebrated no matter how small”

Chantel Fry is currently on a Customer Service Level 2 Practitioner apprenticeship at EMH Homes.

EMH Homes has been providing good quality affordable homes to individuals and families in the East Midlands since 1946.

Chantel won the Midlands Regional Highly Commended Award at the National Apprentice Awards 2019 earlier this year. To celebrate her successes, we asked Chantel a few questions to get a deeper insight into what being an apprentice is really like.

Susan Shallcross, Chantel’s tutor describes her as “a confident and enthusiastic young lady, and whilst undertaking her qualification she has shown her excellent customer service skills, she takes onboard feedback and tries to improve all the time, in her job and whilst completing her apprenticeship work. The visits have been a pleasure and she has overcome any obstacles in her way- she has a ‘can do’ attitude that will take her far in her career.”

We got to know Chantel a little better. She loves everything rainbows, glitter and unicorns which perfectly reflects her peppy personality. Her biggest weakness is chocolate (I think most can agree with this one) and it always cheers her up. If you are considering doing an apprenticeship, but as a parent, guardian or carer you think you wouldn’t be able to do it, Chantel may just inspire you to take that leap. As a Mum of 5, Chantel juggles family life and work / education life making sure there is a balance between both.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

I chose to do an apprenticeship as I left school with different ideas of what I wanted to do job wise, and very few qualifications. Before I had children, I wanted to do nursing, but since trying my hand at that I realised that it wasn’t really for me. I’m a hands-on learner so an apprenticeship sounded right up my street!

What are the key skills you have gained during your apprenticeship?

Oh, there are so many!

  • I’ve become a better listener; I listen to hear now rather than to just reply!
  • I am a lot better at multi-tasking and time management! Trying to get to work for 8am and making sure the kids are where they are supposed to be whilst maximising my time in bed is a juggling act.
  • I can hold my own in meetings and question everything. I’ve gained the confidence to not just accept things I’m told and to ask heaps of questions.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?

I enjoy the diversity; I can take up to 50 calls in one day and no two calls are the same. It keeps me on my toes and my brain alive. I’ve taken part in a few groups and things too so meeting people from other areas of the business helps. It’s been great to put faces to names

Has your employer been supportive throughout your apprenticeship, how have they supported you?

I honestly couldn’t fault EMH and my team leaders, with having children they understand that things happen last minute and that sometimes I need a bit of lee way. With having time off medically they are super understanding and always bend over backwards to accommodate me. Plus, anytime I’ve needed to do the work and catch up on things they always let me have it no matter how busy we get.

How did you feel about being put forward for the National Apprenticeship Awards?

So, the academy leader came to me and suggested I applied. She wants everyone to know how epic they are. When she came to me, I wasn’t going to apply but she thought it would be good, so I applied and hey presto.

How did getting through to the regional finals feel?

Honestly, I was super excited! Having the work I’ve done get the recognition is amazing. There are so many great people out there doing amazing things so the fact that I was considered one of those great people in the region, blows my mind!

Do you feel that the apprenticeship has or will open opportunities for you in the future?

Of course, EMH is pretty good, so there are always opportunities for further development. They let you try anything and coming in as an apprentice you’re expected to try what’s on offer and to shadow other people. I’ve been on diversity focus groups, been a part of a huge project, given speeches to the CEO, new apprentices and managed to fit in some shadowing. I’ve also been lucky enough to show the new cohort of apprentices our department and let them listen in to my calls.

Going forward, once everything with my apprenticeship has been tied up and completed, I will stay on in this department until something comes up and catches my eye. Maybe a secondment in a different department? The CEO and myself have a running joke about me being his apprentice and learning his role, we all know it will never happen but it’s nice to have that relationship with him.

You never know where you can end up the only limit is myself, as cheesy as it sounds.

If you’re thinking of doing and apprenticeship go for it. The positives far out way the negatives and the days have flown by. I’ve loved every minute of it and my achievements have been celebrated no matter how small. The staff invest in you and they are equally as excited when you succeed. Everyone said well done to me when I passed my maths exam as they knew maths wasn’t my strong point.

PTP have been amazing and my tutor Sue is super understanding she accepts how different people are and adjusted things for me to make sure that I have achieved every step of the way. From letting me do my maths exam on paper to rearranging meetings last minute because of my scatter brain! I’d like to think we’ve become pretty good friends.

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