Growing up in the area that I did, there were a lot of challenges. I didn’t really have any role models to look up to that actually took the legitimate route in life.

I was not sure about continuing to study because I was in that mind frame of wanting to earn money. I wanted to work; I wanted to see how it was in the working world. Working in retail, I was doing well – but I didn’t have aspirations of being in retail for the long term. I didn’t want to be in a position in later life where I would look back and see that the choice not to study in my younger years had limited my options.

‘I didn’t really see any future in street life, you need to look long term and think about where you will end up. It’s all fun and games when you’re young and doing these things, but before long you won’t really be a cool guy any more for doing that, as you edge into your 20’s and 30’s.’

I had heard about apprenticeships, but when I looked online, it would always be routes like mechanical or engineering roles. I really wanted to go into finance.

I had been wondering to myself “how am I going to realise the ambitions and dreams that I have?” – It seemed like a long road. At the same time I was thinking “how do I even break into the companies that I want to get into. What routes do I take?”

‘I didn’t know where to turn and it would have been easy to slip into a path that I had seen so many of my friends take. I thought to myself something has got to work!’
‘That is when I heard about City Gateway.’

The tutors at City Gateway were really helpful – it felt like they were there to help and actually wanted to make a difference to the community.

It was like a light bulb flashed in my mind and I thought, I can do this – the tutors made me feel like that as well. They don’t discriminate or look at you in a certain way. They actually have the belief in you, which helps you believe in yourself.

During the traineeship interviews at IBM my tutor was there on the day to support me. They are really friendly; they want me to do well. I thought, IBM must be like that as well – that’s how it feels when you arrive. We got treated so well there.

‘My traineeship was one of the biggest kick-starts to my career and my future.’
‘I realised I’m not actually too behind in my age group. It gave me the urge to continue and not stop growing. It got me back on the ball and ready to engage my mind again. I developed confidence through doing presentations and through working with different members of the team. I walked out of that traineeship really confident about finding an apprenticeship.’
‘I valued the opportunity I had; I always made sure I was early and ready for work. I always had the end goal in my mind, that depending on how I was doing, there could be a job at the end of the apprenticeship. My manager was very happy to work with me and offer me constructive criticism so that I could always improve.’

From there City Gateway put me forward for an apprenticeship role at Man Group and I got it. When I first came into Man Group and got the apprenticeship, it took me some time to find my feet. For everyone else it’s a normal day in the office, but for you it’s brand new. I took my time – I asked for work, I wanted to work hard – I was observing the situation and would always ask my line manager questions. It helped me and gradually I felt more and more confident in the environment.

‘I want to keep that apprentice mind-frame, staying hungry and motivated. I’ve now got a job, which is amazing, and am working towards different financial qualifications.’