In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with one of our very first apprentices, Alice Pollard, to talk about how she’s found working at Opus Energy, and how easy it was to settle in through our apprenticeship programme.
Alice, you’ve been here for 4 years now, congratulations! How easy was it for you to adjust to your role, and what support did you receive?
When I first came to Opus Energy, everyone was so helpful and supportive that I soon settled into the team. There’s almost a family atmosphere here, which is unusual for a business of this size.
I was one of the first 4 apprentices who started on the apprenticeship programme, and we were all assigned a Mentor. When you’re completing an NVQ in Customer Service at the same time as working, it can be quite challenging to keep on top of everything. Regular meetings with your Mentor can really help to make you feel like you have someone on your side. When I started, you’d meet with your Mentor once a month or whenever was necessary. These days you can have more regular Mentor meetings if you need to, as well as fortnightly meetings with your college.
What’s the best thing about working for Opus Energy?
I’d say the best thing would be the friendly and supportive atmosphere. We all regularly go on dinners and staff days out and although the team is constantly growing and changing, there’s a close-knit feel.
Have there been any challenges in your career so far?
A year after I joined Opus Energy, shortly after I finished my apprenticeship programme, I became a Mentor myself. I was only 19 at the time so was quite apprehensive about being responsible for someone else, and it was challenging to get to know a new person and then adapt my style to support them. But the company supported me by putting me through a mentoring programme first and now, 3 years later, I’m looking forward to hopefully taking on someone else in the future.
How are you supported here?
There are lots of training courses that are available through the company that everyone has to do, especially during the first 6 months. There are also workshops on working in an office for apprentices who are coming straight from school.
There are also ‘Lead the Way’ courses which give you management training. For example, finding out what motivates people and learning about effective note-taking. I’m interested in taking the ‘core skills’ course, and then maybe progress to higher-management modules in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I’m doing an NVQ 3 in Customer Service through the company, and have also just started an Open University course in Environmental Sciences which I’m feeling positive about.
In terms of my future with Opus Energy, I’m looking forward to helping more people and welcoming new members to the team.
What would you say to someone thinking of joining us?
I’d say that it’s a really good place to work. The Apprenticeship programme here is different from other companies because you know when you start that there’s a guaranteed position at the end of it. There’s no possibility of going through a year-long programme, only to be unemployed when it’s finished. The wage is also really high for an apprentice.
There’s a lot of flexibility within the company, too. Lots of internal promotions and opportunities are regularly advertised, and it’s easy to move across different departments if you want to.