Jennifer Crockart | Level 3 Advanced Sales Apprentice with Furnished Homes

Jennifer Crockart

Before

I started off selling chocolate and cans in my lunch break in school. My parents were going through their divorce so money was tight at that time and if I wanted anything my parents would say go and get a job and then you can buy what you want. I was taking home about £40 profit a week! It was brilliant as it meant I could go out and buy sweets and go bowling - whatever I wanted to do. Later on I sold hair extensions and false eyelashes.

From a young age I knew that I enjoyed sales and the confidence you feel when you're doing well. I had five part-time jobs while doing my AS levels - I worked as a cleaner, a waitress, cafe manager, gym assistant and in business development. I didn’t have a career plan or want to go to university, as my main goal was to become a salesperson or work in the business sector. I knew that I didn’t need a degree to prove I could sell.

My apprenticeship

I thought the apprenticeship route was better for me as you have the chance to learn and gain experience as well as earning at the same time, whilst if you were just studying you are not earning any money. 

I found the apprenticeship on the NAS website. I applied when I was in India as I was out there teaching children, but I found it difficult to arrange an interview as I was out there for a month. Thankfully they were able to wait to interview me.

The best bit

Just about everything - I enjoy something new every single day. It’s very challenging as you're constantly on your feet, quoting, driving around, making new sales and finding new business. I learn something new every day to do with flooring and blinds, and recently attended an interior design course which work paid for me to do. I’d soon like to do the mood boards and designing of care home refurbishments. I currently do this at a basic level, but the company are looking at putting me on a more advance interior design course so I can be more involved.

My manager is thinking of putting me onto a business management course. I could do this initially as a short course, but I may choose to carry it on to a full degree. While I don’t need a degree to prove I can sell, there are definitely techniques that you need to follow and be aware of if managing a team. Now I’m interviewing the new apprentices as we are an expanding business, it is going to be useful for me to have a lot more experience for now and the future.

New skills

I am more independent with my learning and within myself. With L2 Apprenticeship I was working here for 12 months and there was a period when my old manager left suddenly so there was a transition period of 2-3 months where it was just me managing the sales department! Obviously there was support if I needed it but they trusted me to manage it and I did well.

In general, I've increased my knowledge and experience. I have got a lot of proof to back up my sales experience now, which is the kind of evidence I can show new employers.

Rewarding

I feel like I am accomplishing something every day. I have been given more responsibility within the company and manage my own workload. The opportunities for additional training they have given me are brilliant, plus they’ve paid for me to do the Level 3, which is equivalent to A levels. 

I was also nominated for an Apprenticeship Award in the Financial and Business Category. It’s so lovely to work in a company where your hard work is recognised. I've got a company car and a mobile as I do more traveling now and I feel a lot more confident within my role.

There’s always something different going on here. We’ve just purchased our upholsterers, so I have been doing a lot of sales to get them off the ground which has proven successful. It is nice to have new challenges. If I ever want to venture into something new or apply somewhere else in the business the company have always been understand and let me do stuff. 

My future

In five years time I would very much like to be managing the sales department or the local area sales manager. As soon as we get another apprentice in, it will be really nice to become a manager or be recognised as a manager within the company, hopefully with a degree in Business Management too.

My recommendation

I would say definitely go for it. It’s a brilliant opportunity, they give you the chance to learn while you earn. With sales if you haven’t got a proven track record most companies won’t look at you because they don’t know you are able to sell. With an apprenticeship they’ll take you on, teach you how to sell, show you the ropes. It’s a brilliant way to start your career in sales. You learn the basics you learn how to conduct yourself in meeting. I have definitely learned a lot within my role here and the more responsibility you have the better. I definitely think it’s a great path to go down; I’ve always been a big fan of it because you are giving young people a chance.