From Apprentice, University Graduate back to being an Apprentice… How did I get here ?

I’ve always hated the way I introduce myself… “Hi my name is Sabina…” it feels so cliche? I don’t know if that’s the word, but I feel like a broken record… Well then…

Hi, my name is Sabina, and I’ve been an apprentice twice now and a University Graduate. I’ve experienced both worlds and I’m here to talk you through my journey.  How I went from knowing what I want, to having a midlife crisis (at the age of 22) to finally finding my place in the workplace.

Key things to remember:

  • It’s not easy being green (If you know, you know)
  • Your experience will be different from mine
  • If you find yourself relating to my experiences or went through the stuff I did (I hope you’re doing well)


Author in question...Sabina Shaid
Sabina Shaid

So just sit back and relax…

Where is all began…

It always seemed strange to me that kids know from a young age what they want to be you hear them say ‘When I grow up, I want to be a doctor…” I just can’t help but think why? What do you know about your chosen career path when you’re making your way up through secondary school? Thinking back at it they seemed to have their ducks in a row and hindsight, it’s something I could have done.

It was only when my secondary school decided to host a careers day when I was in year 10 and had invited professionals from loads of different work backgrounds to come and meet us all and discuss their roles that I started thinking about what I should do. However, that thought left just as quickly as it came after all, a 13-year-old Sabina had other priorities like telling my Dad I was studying when I was playing ding door dash with my friends.

As silly as this sounds, I still hadn’t made my mind up about what I wanted to do until I reached sixth form, and I had no choice but to think of something as my choices would be the path to getting into university. I thought let me become a primary school teacher (which is funny because I realized afterward you must have the patience of a SAINT and I don’t have it) and I decided there and then I was doing that. Our sixth made it mandatory to complete a 4-week work experience, both separated into two different workplaces.  As an aspiring teacher, I went to a primary school to get some experience. You really must experience something to know it doesn’t work for you. I can’t stress how important this is.  After watching a kid make direct eye contact with me whilst digging for gold in his nose, he did not flinch as he picked out the most yellow slime-like boogers from his nose and wiped it on someone’s poor rainbow fish. And yes, maintained strong eye contact. That was when I decided, I couldn’t be a teacher. I left those two weeks happy that I never had to step back into a primary school setting ever again.

I was left with the thought of well what do I do now? Normal people have backup plans, but me. Nothing. Nada. I was then placed in an elderly care home, this wasn’t something I picked but as a Health and Social Care student the choices were limited and I had no choice but to go here After my only career plan had been foiled, I was open to other options. I also thought this would be a good way for me to experience other settings, who knows I just might like it.


Coming to the elderly care home did nothing but scare the living daylights out of me. Just seeing how alone I want to say they were; most were losing what I had working. The ability to walk, talk, my memory (even that is debatable), and even eat the things that I want without any complications. When I left that place and came back to sixth form, I decided that seeing that scared me enough, why don’t I take it a step further and become a nurse because you know they don’t see death, experience grief and see all thing’s that would make an ordinary person crumble.

I can’t handle boogers and seeing frail old people, yet I want to become a nurse.

Right because that made a lot of sense.

I finished my years at sixth form and passed my Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care at D*D*D* (It’s a flex) and went to Queen Mary University for an opening day and decided once I had walked through those doors. This is not me.

I was stumped for a while, so what do I do now?

I remember feeling panicked because everyone else seemed to have it all planned out, but I was here alone thinking what do I do?  It was only when I spoke to my Health and Social Care teacher that she suggested an apprenticeship. After doing some research on my own, I saw that you earn whilst you learn on the job. This sounded great to me, it gave me an opportunity to try out an industry and see if I liked it. At 17/18 years old it sounded like a dream.

Or so I thought.

Sometimes you learn a lesson the hard way.

I ended up applying for an apprenticeship in Business Administration for a training organisation let’s call them ‘H’ for now, and at first it seemed okay. But that’s how most paces start, everything seems okay, and you get pulled into this false sense of security until you realise it’s the opposite.

This was my first ever job and I am seriously surprised that I am still working even after I had been at the workplace that would have put me off working for the rest of my life. This organisation did everything you could think of, and it got a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Mentally and physically, I was done, I had never been so happy to hand in my notice and wash my hands with this place. I was just 6 months into this apprenticeship, and I didn’t even secure another job or apprenticeship I just left.

The good thing about that was I was finally at peace; I was coming to terms that this place I was working at wasn’t normal. The bad thing about it was I left with eye bags that made me look like Uncle Fester from The Adams Family. (just for reference this is what he looked like)

I thought this was off the road for me and apprenticeships until I was approached by someone from a training provider who offered me an interview. I took a gamble and went to it, and they allowed me to complete my apprenticeship with them.

It was refreshing, I was working with a team that I got along with my boss was nice. However, the issue here was being overworked and being buried under mountains of paperwork.

In the end, after my apprenticeship, I was taken on as a full-time employee. But I was burnt out, I was done with training providers, and I wanted out of the education sector. From my two experiences in education, I no longer wanted a part of this world.

Don’t me wrong, I’ve learned so much during my time at these two places and my skills were at a high standard and I was a well-trained administrator. I even ended up being friends with two of the people that I worked with at the last place I was with. I am happy to report, that one is now a mother of 2 kids, with her own business and my other friend is now in a much better workplace. There is some light to this darkness

So, what did I do after this place? I found a job as an Administrative Assistant at a trading company, and everything about this place was good, they had a nice workplace in the city, they had a nice work environment and for a year everything seemed like it was going well.

Too well.

I do wonder if I had done something to someone in another lifetime because who has this much bad luck?

Long story short, it turns out this company was doing Illegal activities and the FCA came down on them hard for being unregulated. It really was an experience being questioned by the police for something I was unaware of. I had another contract job, which was an odd one. It involved a lot of calling and a certain number of calls had to be hit or you’d be called out in front of everyone. (I was a victim of this)

Then I found myself back to square one, at the age of 22. Well, what do I do now?

This is when I felt like I was having a midlife crisis and decided to go to university. I picked a subject that seemed interesting and went for it: Sociology. Can you guess what I want to do with this degree?

That’s right, become a teacher. But no, not for primary school just when you think it couldn’t get worse, I thought I could teach at a college level.

So, this is how I started my degree which happened when the lockdown first happened, after hearing how much everyone liked University, I felt like I was robbed of my experience. We did everything through teams, I barely knew the people in my class, and I became more of an introvert than I already was.

I found very quickly that I needed money and needed to find a part-time job. It was hard to find something during this time, no one was hiring & the people who were wanted full-time workers, not part-time ones. Then came my shining knight in armour, my friend Annie. I met her at my last workplace. She knew I was looking for something, and she happened to be working freelance at a training provider. I was ready to say no. As I said before I was done with training organisations.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I had the experience, so it made sense, but did I want to go through this again? No.

Do I have a choice? Yes but no.

So, I went for an interview, and I stayed here until I finished my degree.

This place was exactly like my previous one, except the work overload was so much and there wasn’t a time where I switched off from work. I even started dreaming about it. I was heavily relied on, and I was doing the bulk of work in the office, and we hired an apprentice who I’m still in contact with he made my job easier, but I was still the number one person to contact. I was tired, and I was so used to working at 100% and at such a high speed even now at the EDA, I find it very hard to slow down. I’m still grappling with how to work at a normal pace and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get tasks done there and then.

I remember when I saw the job advert for the Education and Training Administrator at the EDA on Indeed. I remember it clearly as yesterday; I was in the kitchen sitting on a chair looking at jobs on my newly bought IPAD (yes this was a retail therapy item to make me feel better) and saw the job post.

“What, do you think about this?” I asked my sister and showed her the job role, I was eating a cheese string as I looked at the role but quickly pulled it back once I realized it took me to another site I said nope

I guess I must be thankful for my ruthless sister who said “Ok… Yzma” referring to the evil character from The Emperor’s New Groove. She was referring to my dark under eyes. Should anyone need any clarification as to what she looks like:

Till this day I’m not sure if she was referring to just the eye bags when making this comparison.

Well… that was my mind made up, I went through the application process to apply for this role at the EDA.

After a screening with Tracy Hewett, a diagnostic, a group interview with Anne Vessay and Margaret Fitzsimons, and a final practical at the EDA office with Tracy Hewett I was offered the role, and I’ve never signed and sent my passport so fast.

In May 2022 I started at the EDA, and in 2023 I started my second apprenticeship to work towards a Content Creator qualification.

I thought my time with education was done, I thought the degree was the last straw. Nope, clearly, I had something deep within in me that disagreed, and I have decided that this is the last time I want to do something like this.

Overall thoughts

My experiences seemed bad, but there were still some good times. If you think about it, I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t go through what I did.

What I would say to my younger self:

  • It’s okay to say no
  • Make sure you do your full research on an organization before you join them
  • Just because you’re an apprentice doesn’t give anyone the right to treat you less than anything