Karisha: An apprenticeship journey

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I started my NVQ Level 3 Retail Apprenticeship with Just Fair Trade in October 2013. I wanted to do an apprenticeship for the hands-on experience and the opportunity to learn and earn at the same time. I enjoy working in retail and wanted to improve my skills and gain new experience by doing my apprenticeship at Just Fair Trade. Doing a Level 3 apprenticeship enabled me to progress from being a retail assistant to being a supervisor, something I felt would benefit my career development as I’d like to run my own store one day.

During my apprenticeship I had an assessor from Leicester College who would come out to see me once a month to help me work through my apprenticeship units. I also had a tutor to help me with English and maths. I found maths and some of my apprenticeship units a little difficult to begin with but with much help and guidance I managed to complete them in record time! Over time I began feeling more confident with my apprenticeship units. I found working one-to-one with my tutor far more very beneficial than being in sat in a classroom with other students.

Some of the new skills I have learnt as an apprentice include cashing up, doing rotas, dealing with refunds and exchanges, organising sale or returns and managing volunteers. I was even running the Christmas toy shop most days within my first few months at Just! I’ve learnt a lot from working with volunteers; the good thing is that I work with different people each day so it’s quite refreshing and never gets boring! I’ve got to know the volunteers whilst working at Just and have begun to get to know their strengths and areas for improvement which I try to help with, so we learn from each other.

Before working here I didn’t know how many fair trade products were out there and how much effort goes into producing quality products. Lanka Kade is one of my favourite suppliers; they produce lovely children’s toys in Sri Lanka. Also I’m a chocoholic so Divine milk chocolate is also one of my favourites!

My apprenticeship did have its obstacles along the way: I became very ill and was off for 2months! It was difficult getting back into the swing of things when I returned and I felt I struggled for a few months but I persevered and didn’t give up and eventually completed my apprenticeship.

Doing this apprenticeship has made me see that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. Now I can manage a store and volunteers, my dream of running my own store one day doesn’t seem so far away anymore.