Getting your Career back on Track

7th August 2020

Making a career change at any age can be daunting, but for Chris it was a choice he was willing to make. Keen to embark on a career in the rail industry, he could not believe his luck when he was accepted for a Level 2 Onboard & Station Team Member Apprenticeship with train operating company, Southeastern. Eager to share his story, we wanted to find out more about his life as an apprentice and what advice he would give to those who are thinking of doing the same. Taking time out of a much deserved day off, he answered some of our questions, which he hoped would give others the confidence to think about changing their career and acquiring new skills through an apprenticeship. Here’s what he had to say:

Q. How do you feel the apprenticeship programme went as a whole?

A. It has been really good. Our initial 6 week ‘block training’ was intense but it gave a great overview of what to expect when working on the trains. The support I have received throughout my apprenticeship and while working out on the depot has been brilliant.

Q. What was the type of help you received from your Learning Support Coach (LSC) during your programme? 

A. Her support has been fantastic, especially over the past few months while I was getting Gateway ready. Nicky has been so helpful throughout my entire apprenticeship, setting me tasks to ensure I remained on track and giving feedback on areas that I needed to focus on.

Q. Our apprentices track their entire learning journey through the use of an e-Portfolio system called OneFile, how did you find using platform?

A. I was slightly overwhelmed at first. I’m forty-nine and started this journey with a lack of IT experience, so it took a while for me to get familiar with the system and how it works. But once I received support sessions from Nicky, I was able to complete the tasks set and upload evidence that would contribute to my portfolio. There is so much you can do on the system, which is great! I also downloaded the app onto my phone and tablet, which meant I had access to my portfolio at all times – learning on the go!

Q. Did you have to take Functional Skills English and maths during your apprenticeship?

A. Yes. At enrolment it was explained that I would have to take my English and maths unless I could produce my certificates to demonstrate I was at the required level already. As I took my exams many years ago, I couldn’t find them so took the lessons and they were great! Although we were unable to take classes face-to-face due to CD19, our Functional Skills tutor completed virtual classes through Microsoft Teams and sent me tasks and mock exams through OneFile which worked really well. I would advise anyone who is worrying about this element of the programme not to worry!

Q. How did you find your gateway conversation, and what advice would you give to those who are taking gateway?

A. It is a great opportunity to reflect back on everything that you have achieved throughout your apprenticeship; I couldn’t actually believe everything I had done! The gateway conversation with my LSC and employer was very relaxed, and it was a chance to reflect on the highs and lows of my learning journey. I would advise anyone approaching gateway to relax and enjoy the process. It is nothing to be afraid of and is actually a good way to take a look back on everything and give yourself a ‘pat on the back.’

Q. What are your future ambitions?

A. Once I have had a few months to mull over everything, I would like to consider the Level 3 Train Driver Apprenticeship. But first, I want a chance to reflect on the learning I have completed in the past few months, but I am definitely keen to learn more and see whether that opportunity is available.

Q. Lastly, what advice would you give to anyone considering this as an opportunity or looking at an apprenticeship to help develop their career?

A. Just go for it! I never knew anything about apprenticeships before I applied for this one and I couldn’t believe I was considering something like this at the age of forty-nine, but I am so glad I did!


InterLearn has been working with Southeastern for over two years, where the training partnership has seen many people like Chris achieve their Level 2 Conductor or Level 3 Train Driver apprenticeships – and sometimes both.  Simultaneously they helped thousands of commuters every day, getting them safely from a to b and with a great travel experience. If this sounds like something your business would be interested in, developing the best frontline teams and qualified professionals, take a look at the programmes we have on offer.

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