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Izabela 1

A new life begins at 40 for Izabela after completing her Business Administration apprenticeship

According to the old adage, life begins at 40 and, having reached that landmark age, Izabela Bogusiewicz is hoping her York College apprenticeship can prove the first step towards a £100,000-a-year accountancy career.

Izabela started her new full-time role as a Finance and Business Support Administrator last month at SASH after completing her Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship with the York-based homeless charity.

Having moved to the UK from Poland, where she had been educated to Master’s degree standard and employed at senior management level, Izabela had to restart her academic journey in this country, sitting her Maths and English GCSE exams at York College.

She then kept checking the college website for Business Administration Apprenticeship opportunities, having been attracted to a pathway that would enable her to become more qualified while being paid at the same time with the prospect of a job on completion.

Having successfully applied for the SASH vacancy, her work in the office and attitude to learning on campus was then recognised at the college’s annual REACH Awards last summer when she was presented with the Apprentice Contribution to College Life/Community prize.

She impressed so much at SASH that she was trusted with added responsibilities including helping the finance department, which has led to her new job title and a plan to combine her work commitments with eventually studying for her AAT Accountancy qualifications, proving how apprenticeships offer a great platform to showcase your all-round talents in a workplace.

“I learned a lot about finance and the apprenticeship pushed me in that direction,” Izabela explained during National Apprenticeship Week. “I was encouraged to do it and I definitely enjoyed it.

“I asked for finance to be included in my new job title and I’m now being trained to do Sage and accounting to learn the basics so it will prepare me to go on a proper accounting course to build my future career. The apprenticeship has opened many doors for me and allowed me to develop in different ways.”

She then added with a laugh: “In ten years’ time, I’d like to be a chartered accountant earning £100,000 a year.

Izabela will assume responsibility for the health and safety of staff, the ordering of stock and dealing with suppliers in her new role, while working permanently for SASH is also giving her immense job satisfaction.

“I’ve never worked for a charity before and it always appealed to me, because I wanted to do something special and to help someone,” she explained. “I didn’t have a lot of spare time to work as a volunteer so I thought, if I start working for a charity, that can be the way I help people.

“I know my job is an admin role, so I don’t help them directly, but I can get involved in fundraising and I’m still part of the team that helps these young people, which matters to me.”

Izabela receives her REACH award from York College Acting Principal Chief Executive Ken Merry
Izabela's outstanding work with SASH was recognised at the York College & University Centre REACH Awards last summer when she was presented with the Apprentice Contribution to College Life/Community prize by the college's Acting Principal and Chief Executive Ken Merry

Izabela’s apprenticeship saw her combine one day a week in College with four working for SASH.

On campus, she was in the minority as a mature student, but felt welcome and supported from day one, as she juggled childcare responsibilities for her nine-year-old son.

SASH were similarly flexible regarding remote working when needed, with Izabela adding: “At first, I felt a bit strange on the course because there was a lot of young apprentices, but you need to be brave because you can start your new career at any age and York College makes you feel welcome. Sometimes, I’ve also noticed that employers actually value you more when you’re older, because you have more life experience and you might be calmer and perhaps respect a job more because, at my age, you want to find a good job and employer.”

Izabela went on to stress that she also found a great education provider in York College, who she credits with helping her climb back up the academic and career ladder following her move to these shores.

“I have a Master’s degree and a post-graduation qualification from Poland but they are not recognised over here, so I had to start from the beginning again when I came to England,” she said. “I worked in shops like Primark and Tesco.

“In Poland, I had managed travel agencies and been responsible for training. My degrees were in Politics and Management with Negotiation, but I had to do my GCSEs here first.

“When you’ve passed your GSCEs, though, there are so many options at York College to choose from. If you can find the right apprenticeship for you - and there’s such a wide range - you will get all the support you need from College and it can give you a job and a qualification.

“If you are my age and you have a family, getting into debt to do another qualification isn’t really an option. I’ve never been on benefits, and you need to be able to pay your bills.

“If you find a really good employer, they might pay you more than the minimum as well, which I had at SASH. They gave me a pay rise every couple of months.

“It’s great to be able to study in College and also get that really important experience. I think employers will always look at what experience you have even if you have the highest grade from whatever university.”

For a list of current York College Apprenticeship vacancies, please click here

You can also learn more about apprenticeships at the college’s next Open Event on Tuesday, March 19 (5.30pm to 8pm). To register a place, please click here