Trying to pursue a career within the motor trade was proving to be difficult as I could not find any positions open. Luckily I was quick off the mark when the position for an Apprentice opened up at my local Honda dealer. Applying for the position and carrying out the online tests was a shock and a dose of reality: this was what the working world was like. I knew I would be competing against others for this job so I kept an open mind and was delighted when I was invited for an interview. Nervously, I arrived at Phoenix Honda Stirling for my interview. I was welcomed by the Service Manager and an ATDM from the Apprenticeship Programme. After the interview I was asked to come back for a three day trial to see how I would get on in the workshop. I was nervous but at the same time looking forward to this.
Arriving back at the dealership for my trial I was introduced to the Workshop Foreman, someone who would later be a massive part of my journey through the Programme and career. Next I was introduced to the Technician I would be working with for the three days. It was daunting meeting all these new people in a strange environment but I was made to feel very welcome. Assisting in normal day to day tasks (MOT’s, Servicing and light repairs), the day just felt like it had a good flow to it. After another two days of this my mind was made up, this was the perfect job for me. I was absolutely over the moon when I was offered the job!
Starting work on Monday 25th July 2011 it was good to see the guys I had met a few weeks earlier. Once again I was paired up with a Technician that would be my mentor for the duration of my apprenticeship. I received my induction into the Programme from my ATDM. This was massively beneficial as this had given me an insight into the Programme and had prepared me for what lay ahead. The first few weeks flew by.
My first block of training at the Institute was an experience in itself. I still remember very clearly sitting on the bus on the first morning, I didn’t know what to expect. Seeing the reception area and then the massive workshop, I could tell I was going to enjoy my time whilst training. I met the Trainers and the people in my group. It took a few hours but by the end of the first day everybody seemed comfortable around each other. A trip to the local karting circuit soon brought us together and we all had a good laugh and a joke.
As my Apprenticeship progressed, I attended more training blocks at the Institute. I could really feel my technical knowledge develop, along with that my confidence at work. Soon I was able to work on my own; this allowed me to build yet more confidence and technical knowledge. I found as I started working on my own that even if you do run into a problem it can be easily resolved using MARIS, Dealer Technical Support or simply by asking someone within the dealer for assistance.
As time moved on further I was getting involved in more tasks, replacing clutches, timing belts and stripping engines. All along the way always thinking back to my training both at the Institute and in dealer. To be told by your Workshop Controller that he no longer thinks of you as an apprentice but a technician fills you with pride and a massive sense of achievement.
In February 2014 I won a competition open to Honda Apprentices. I was selected to work alongside Honda Yuasa Racing, the massively successful British Touring Car team. This was an absolute dream come true. Having been a massive motorsport fan all my life and with a real desire to work within the industry I was over the moon at this opportunity. Walking in to the paddock at Brands Hatch for the first meeting I still remember taking in all the sights and sounds of the busy circuit. I had been working on this dream for a while and it suddenly hit me that I had finally made it. Assisting the guys with almost every area within the team is really an experience that can never be bought. Four race meetings down and I’m loving every minute of it, working with a great bunch of guys in an amazing environment.
As of recently I am a licensed Honda Maintenance Technician and feel that I have a vast technical knowledge. I am working towards completing my portfolio and my apprenticeship. I have attended my final block at the Institute and I am sure I will miss Apprentice Training. As I look back over the last three years I realise how much has influenced it. For one my time at the Institute, without the structured training and team building, I am sure things would not have turned out as well. The support is phenomenal, the team offer support from day one and certainly fulfil their promise. Without the support from my dealership, my foreman Graham Findlay especially, I am certain my knowledge and ability would not be anywhere near the level it is today. I can now go forward with my career knowing that I have the backing from both the Institute and Phoenix Honda. I now know what people mean when they refer to being ‘Honda trained’ and why people often say what a fantastic programme it is. This has definitely shaped my career; I don’t think I’ll ever look back!