JuMP Apprentice - Dina Charalambous
7th Feb 2012
After completing my GCSEís I was seriously considering leaving school, as I struggled to focus and concentrate in a classroom environment. I didnít have a clue about what I wanted to do which made it harder to imagine staying onto further education.
Luckily, I came across an invaluable mentor at school, my business teacher, who managed to help turn my life around and made me reconsider the way I approached my future. We spent a good few weeks having mentoring sessions and over this time she helped re-establish my faith back in education.
I enrolled to do my A-Levels and decided to study Business Studies, IT and a Welsh Baccalaureate. I thought by studying Business Studies I would experience studying a range of subjects that could help me find my niche in life.
My first year in sixth form went well and but then the pressure started. I enjoyed my courses but they did not make me passionate about pursing a particular career. I tried to avoid the subject about my future and I literally buried my head in the sand. Going to University scared me, I could not believe the amount of money you had to pay in order to get a degree. I had many sleepless nights trying to figure what to do next. My family were keen that I went to University but the more I thought about it the less appealing it became. The only positive was the social life, but a £40,000 debt for a good social life was a hard price to pay.
I completed my A levels and thought I would decide when I received my exams results. In the meantime I got a part-time job at Cardiffís Millennium stadium as a box host serving guests food and drink in the VIP boxes.
When I got my A level results - I did well and I knew I got a place in all of my University choices. My parents were chuffed and started to make plans for me. I then saw the advert for the Travelodge JuMP Apprentiship scheme and became torn between applying for that and University. I decided that it was a brilliant opportunity and to go for it.
I decided to spend the summer researching alternatives to university which didnít involve getting into debt but gaining valuable experience and getting paid at the same time. I came across an interesting scheme called JuMP by Travelodge. I went online, did some research and found out the hotel chain was launching its junior management apprenticeship programme. It combined on the job training, you had the option to study for further qualifications and you got paid for it. It was a two year programme and at the end you had the opportunity to run your own hotel. It all sounded too good to be true.
I applied for the JuMP scheme and I was glad to see the programme was exactly as stated. I got invited to an open day which was good fun as I met lots of people in the same situation as me. Before I always use to think I was the odd one and everyone my age had a plan.
It was a nerve racking few days until I got the call, I had everything crossed as I really wanted a place on the programme after the open day. I was one of the lucky ones who had got a place. I had got an apprenticeship position in the heart of Cardiff. I was so pleased that I had found something that I truly wanted to do. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I started my apprenticeship in September 2011, it was the first step on my career ladder within the hospitality industry. I am hoping to grow as the company expands in the UK and internationally.
My advice is not to panic if you donít know what to do. Itís easy to follow your friends but youíre not living their life and you have to build a life that is right for you. Itís ok not to have all of the answers. Seek advice from someone you look up to. Get some real work experience in the industry that interests you.
I firmly believe university is not the only route to success and with the rising costs of gaining a degree there are increasingly more and more alternatives out there. Be brave and explore all your options.