In part one of this blog, we compared the course, social life and well-being. In this one, we’ll be focussing on networking, job prospects and the all-important topic of finances. This is written more generally but do keep in mind that I’m a solicitor apprentice.
Networking is more than just building relationships that benefit you and your career, it is also about engaging with your community in a meaningful and productive way. Networking can significantly influence the trajectory of your life, depending on who and what organisations you connect yourself with.
The topic of comparing university and an apprenticeship is extremely difficult because the types of networking that you would be exposed to would be different. What I will say is that, due to the nature of the role, being an apprentice means that you’d be exposed to professional networking in a more natural way. Your employer is likely to hold or be invited to an event held by another company, or training that is industry-wide.
Professional networking is certainly plausible as a full-time student, but it is a little less familiar. You’d likely sign up for events specific to your industry, or ones that you find online. This is quite simple to do but it is not naturally embedded in the immediate day-to-day workings of being a student. However, the university has the phenomenal benefit of being able to connect with peers on your level through groups, societies and socials. Again, this is very possible for the apprentice, but it is not commonplace.
Additionally, as a full-time university student, you will have access to exclusive events and guest speakers tailored for networking as a student. The same can be said for an apprentice. The firm that I work in also has connections to people with vast amounts of knowledge and expertise, who would probably not have crossed paths with me if I went to university.
There are certainly benefits to both in relation to networking.
It is very easy to assume that because you’re doing an apprenticeship, your job prospects are higher than if you were a full-time student. Based on the facts, it does appear to be true because the apprenticeship has the extraordinary benefit of being able to get hands-on industry experience. By being an apprentice, you have a unique insight into the industry you’d like to pursue, or at least have some interest in.
For the most part, I would agree. If a company were to consider two identical candidates, with the same grades, personality, and skills and one has 3 years of industry experience, it is very likely that they would choose the more experienced candidate; with some exceptions.
However, this is focussing specifically on degree apprentices and university students, it’s harder to grade match with full-time uni students compared to an apprentice simply because there is less time to achieve the same objective. It is of course not impossible, but it’s something to consider depending on how you manage yourself as a student or an apprentice.
Lastly, we’ll be touching on finances. As a full-time university student, you have student debt from the degree and maintenance loan plus interest. You may also be eligible for some bursaries, assuming you meet some of the requirements and many university students get a job to support them during their studies.
As an apprentice, both your employer and the government pay for the cost of the qualification as well as paying you a salary. That means that you finish the programme debt free and with a salary.
Of course, you’d have to learn how to manage your money correctly but financially you’d be better off as an apprentice. This is also dependent on your cost of living as well. An apprentice that lives at home in Bristol, hypothetically, would have lower living costs compared to one who lives alone in London. As someone who lives in London, it is very expensive.
As a whole, we have looked at 6 different areas that you might want to consider when comparing an apprenticeship with a degree. Have a look at some more blogs to help you form a well rounded decision, but certainly, keep these areas in mind. Hope this helps!