At WhiteHat, we’re always looking for ways to develop our candidates’ skills and employability if they are not quite ready to take on an apprenticeship when they first come in for a Kick-Off day. We met Katie Ellingham just before Christmas, and were super impressed by her enthusiasm and positive attitude. In order to help her gain experience and prepare for a full-time role, we recommended she enrol on the 6-week personal career development programme with Resurgo Spear before continuing her search for an apprenticeship with us. Read on to hear what she gained from the experience, and what she’s hoping to do next…

Katie giving her final presentation as part of the programme

During sixth form, I felt like my only option was to go to university. But unlike my friends, I didn’t have a clue about what course I wanted to complete. After a few months, I became adamant that I didn’t want to go to university and started looking at alternative pathways which is when I started to consider apprenticeships. I felt like an apprenticeship would be great because I would be able to gain invaluable experience and develop key skills whilst earning some money, instead of drowning in student debt for a course which I would probably end up hating.

Personally, I knew that I didn’t want to do an apprenticeship where I would have to go into a college once a week, which was a struggle to find. However, that is when I came across WhiteHat. Once I applied, I was called by a team member at WhiteHat and a couple of days later I was sat in their office on a Kick-Off day. On the Kick-Off day, each candidate had a one-to-one interview with a Talent Manager and during my one-to-one I was referred to a personal career development programme called Resurgo Spear.

Resurgo Spear is a 6-week long programme in which each week is focused on a different objective. They have centres all around London but I went to the Spear Islington centre where I was coached by Emma, Chianne and Mel.

One of the main things that attracted me to Spear was that they had an “Interview Week”, which at the time was one of my biggest weaknesses. I hadn’t had much experience at interviews, but being on Spear and having mock interviews with the coaches and external professionals has helped me learn how to stand out during the interview process, whether it’s a one-to-one interview or in a group.

Another thing that I have learnt from being on Spear is presentation skills. Before Spear, if I were asked to do a presentation in front of people I would make any excuse I could to not have to do it. From the first week on Spear we were all challenged to do a presentation in front of the group about our legacies and I was an absolute mess. However, as the weeks progressed and we continued doing weekly presentations I saw myself improving and growing more confident. By the end of the six weeks I was standing in front of a room of 50 guests speaking about my experience on Spear at our Spear Celebration Evening.

Whilst in school I tended to have a victim mentality; always blaming challenges in my life on others and struggling to take responsibility for my actions. Since being on Spear I have learnt about power mentality, which is the opposite of victim mentality. I have started to take responsibility and hope to continue having a power mentality.

Apart from the mock interview week, my favourite element of the programme was the company visit which happened in Week 3. During the company visit at Triland Metals we met some of the employees, learnt about elevator pitches and did group presentations in front of the HR manager and other employees. This was a great experience for me because, although it’s not an industry that I am interested in, it was nice to be able to network and get feedback on our CVs from professional people.

Due to the challenges that I have faced and the encouragement I have received from the Spear coaches I have started to believe in myself. I feel like believing in yourself is extremely important, especially in the workplace, and it’s something that I have struggled with for most of my life. Spear has given me a fresh approach to dealing with issues of self-esteem, setting me up for success. Spear has also helped me to get prepared for work by referring me to Dress for Success. Dress for Success are an organisation that gives you a free business-wear outfit that you can wear at an interview. Once you have secured a job placement they also allow you to return and get five more days of business outfits.

Katie with her coaches, Emma, Chiane and Mel

Since finishing Spear, I have returned to WhiteHat and started applying for apprenticeships with them. Although it’s going to be difficult I would love to get into the events industry and hope that by doing an apprenticeship with WhiteHat I will be able to gain transferable skills which I can use further on in my career.

If you are hoping to find an apprenticeship my biggest piece of advice would be: don’t be put off if you’re not successful. Don’t be disheartened if you are not successful, just keep trying. Everything happens for a reason.