Apprenticeships – A Bridge to Reach Your Potential

By Omar Magdedy
Customer Service Assistant at Meadowhall 

21 Mar 2017

I came to the UK alone, as a refugee from the war in Sudan. I have been living in Sheffield since 2015. I wanted to live, to find peace and to be safe. A few years ago, I could never have imagined how my life would be now. 

When I first got here, my English wasn't strong, so I went to Sheffield City College to study English and Maths, whilst seeking work. I managed to get a couple of temporary jobs but nothing permanent. Then I was invited for an interview at Meadowhall. I was excited because it is one of the biggest retail centres in the whole country.

After the interview, I was offered two opportunities: one was a permanent job and one a Level 2 Customer Service and Administration apprenticeship. I went straight for the apprenticeship because it will give me a qualification. I cannot believe how lucky I am. I’m on an apprenticeship that’s the bridge to reach my potential. It’s like a dream coming true. 

My ultimate goal is to do a degree in Business and Administration, and the apprenticeship will help me achieve the entry requirement to my degree, as well as providing me with the employment to pay the bills. Six months on, I can’t tell you how different I feel. I have a responsible job in a renowned retail company. 

On the Meadowhall front desk, we help customers and local people with information, centre guides, lost property and gift cards. We also support colleagues in security, construction and management. I’m getting the chance to work with clients with different backgrounds and needs. This experience has helped me hone my skills, providing a tailored service to each of our customers.

My apprenticeship is giving me the keys and the skills I need to reach my potential. I feel empowered each day. Through this scheme, I’m gaining massive experience, solving problems every day, getting more confidence and improving my communication skills. 

Everyone in the business is very helpful and caring. I get a lot of support too, from managers and colleagues alike. It is a pleasure to work with such a great team. My tutor also helps me with the academic side of the programme and observes my customer service skills, continually giving me feedback on my performance.

When I finish my apprenticeship in September 2017, I’m keen to secure a customer service job and hopefully get a Level 3 qualification, so that I can pursue my ultimate goal and go to university.

I was always dreaming of getting an opportunity. Now, I love my life. The people of Sheffield are very friendly and helpful. I never feel that I’m far from home. The apprenticeship scheme is brilliant and the working environment is friendly and supportive. I really enjoy working with colleagues from our department and across Meadowhall. I thank everyone who has supported me through this journey. I promise to be the best person I can be to help the business develop.

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