If you’d told me that within the first year of joining the Apprentice Store as a web developer apprentice that I’d be doing some teaching I’d have laughed out loud and yet that is exactly what happened during lockdown.
When I reflect on my experience of lockdown, I realise just how formative it has been for me. After the initial adjustment to working from home and understanding the ramifications of the pandemic, my job actually got busier and I was challenged in ways I didn’t expect.
Understandably, a lot of business owners have taken the opportunity to review their online presence during lockdown and consequently I have built a lot of websites over the last few months. But the real highlight has been making connections with young people at the opposite end of the country and helping them learn new digital skills.
The Apprentice Store is participating in an accelerator programme specifically for social enterprises organised by the EY Foundation, which seeks to help young people facing barriers to entering work and supports social entrepreneurs. Our involvement in this is led by David, our managing director. David hit it off with Lisa Stepanovic the founder of a social enterprise in London called Social Ark.
Social Ark is based in Tower Hamlets in East London and supports young people from under-resourced East London communities to develop social businesses of their own. After identifying a way that The Apprentice Store could support young entrepreneurs from Social Ark, David asked me to help.
Over four weeks, we worked with five social entrepreneurs which resulted in each social enterprise having a website and each entrepreneur gaining newly acquired skills to manage and maintain their online presence. We covered everything from covered basic WordPress to Google Analytics, SEO, e-commerce and cyber security.
For the first time, I moved from a role supporting David to hosting my own one-to-one sessions with my counterparts in London. It was quite a change!
The whole experience was really positive and I feel much more confident now. Teaching other people something you have had to learn yourself actually reinforces your own understanding. It helped that I was dealing with people close to my own age as it was easier to connect with them on the same level. For me, the contrast between Nairn and East London is huge so it was interesting for me to simply get to know them. I hope that we can stay in touch as I’d like to see what happens over the next few months and how successful their businesses are.
I’m passionate about what I do, and I’m pleased that I was able to help other people gain digital skills. I really believe that digital skills are important especially if you are starting a business.