Luca Lowe is an apprentice Project Manager working at Direct Line, completing his Level 4 APM Project Manager qualification with Babington. Luca was happy to share his apprentice experience so far with us.
Why did you choose the Direct Line Group Apprentice Programme?
After studying Business Studies at Sixth Form, a Project Management qualification was the ideal step up in what I wanted to pursue in my life. The job description highlighted the key aspects of business studies that I wanted to develop so it became clear what an excellent opportunity this could be to shape my career. And after reading up about Direct Line Group, it seemed like the perfect company, with brilliant career development options and great company values – which only made me more eager to join.
The APM qualification is nationally recognised and will allow me to develop my skills in Project Management and gain real-world experience within the business environment – all the while being supported by highly trained professionals who help me develop my skills at a pace that is tailored to me.
What challenges have you been presented with so far?
My apprentice journey has not been straightforward. I really struggled with my organisational skills when I first joined. My line manager was aware of this, but instead of putting me down, she gave me all the support I needed to develop this skill and now I would say I am an organisational master! Not only have I developed my organisational skills, I’ve also improved my project management skills. I remember on my first day I participated in a team meeting where lots of different project management terminology and abbreviations were used – I didn’t have a clue what anything meant! But now I run my own project and am confident enough to run my own Project Status Meetings! It just goes to show what five months can do!
And what key skills have you developed?
I have developed in so many ways – more than I could’ve dreamt of! Overall, I’m much more confident when speaking to different stakeholders within the business. I’ve also developed my knowledge of the project world; building an understanding of how a successful project is run from start to finish and the different aspects of a project life cycle. Moreover, I have been able to put these skills into practice which has allowed me to develop even more progressively- I really don’t think I would have all gained all this knowledge if I had studied the same subject at university.
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What benefits do you think there are to be completing an apprenticeship, especially yours, instead of going to university?
A key benefit of any apprenticeship is being able to gain knowledge and develop skills within the real working world. Business has been a big part of my education and I was keen to develop the skills I gained throughout my education. University, for many, is the first step someone takes to develop the skill in which they are most passionate about. However, after attending various talks within Sixth Form around university, I was persistent to find another path that didn’t involve me being stuck in a classroom listening to the same teacher day in day out; especially after spending the last however many years doing the same routine repeatedly. I wanted change! I feel like an apprenticeship can provide real business context within the real world, in real time; although universities provide an extremely high level of education, they lack real-world context. After just 5 months within my apprenticeship, I have not only developed my project management skills but softer skills too, such as organisational and communication skills; these will help me in my career for years to come.
Any advice for those considering an apprenticeship, but are uncertain about entering the workplace?
My advice for anybody who is looking to start an apprenticeship would be: go for it! Do not hesitate as it will be the best decision you make. You gain lots of experience, by the end of the apprenticeship you can have 2-4 years of experience within the job role; something that university students lack when they graduate. Not only do you gain experience within the real working world, you get paid whilst doing so! You’re not left with shedloads of debt by the end of the apprenticeship, in fact, you’ve probably saved some money!
What are your plans after completing your apprenticeship?
After my apprenticeship, I plan to develop my career within project management. I’d like to stay at Direct Line for a long time, they treat their employees incredibly well and I am happy to say that I work for such an ethical company. There are many career development paths Direct Line have to offer but let’s wait and see!
A great way to kick start a career in project management is through an apprenticeship. Find out more here.