Gaia Innovation Ltd Welcome Their Newest Member To The Team.

I’m Sophie Oak, Apprentice Events Manager at Gaia Innovation Ltd and the newest member of the Gaia Team, I started working with Gaia Innovation in August 2018, where I began my Degree Apprenticeship programme, working as an Apprentice Events Manager, alongside studying Chartered Management at Sheffield Hallam University. I joined both Gaia Innovation and Sheffield Hallam University as a college leaver, on the search for a new adventure and wish to support many youngsters in my position, through the work we do within Gaia Innovation.

Degree Apprenticeships are a relatively new and growing development for vocational higher education in England, as an alternative route to obtaining a degree, as opposed to studying the traditional full-time university course, whereby high tuition fees and student debt are huge factors. Degree apprenticeships are a qualification which hold a full-time employment status rather than a student status, designed to fill high-level skills gaps in industries which can provide students with the opportunity to experience the world of work. The Degree Apprenticeship scheme was first launched by the government in 2015, in order to combine full time paid work with part time university study. The programme is somewhat new to the world of education, so there is a lack of awareness of the qualification amongst many further education outlets, a concern when it comes to further education leavers weighing up their options for higher education pathways.

Working with Gaia Innovation Ltd has allowed me to become part of the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) scheme with Sheffield Hallam University; where I will complete my BA (Honours) Professional Practice in Management, over the duration of 3 years. The programme allows me the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ as an Apprentice Events Manager with a full time position at Gaia Innovation and part time study role, in the form of block release at Sheffield Hallam. The Degree Apprenticeship route is a challenging and rewarding way of achieving my degree, however this will allow me to gain a level of experience in the world of work, particularly the management sector. The CMDA is directly linked with real life business management, as opposed to a more generalised full time Business Studies degree- allowing me to target my higher education to a more specific field and focus my expertise at an earlier stage, an aspect which the more academic route is unable to accommodate.

The opportunities which Gaia Innovation provide for students in a similar position to mine, is what initially attracted me towards Gaia as an employer. Programmes such as ‘Search for a Star’ help to capture talent in a particular industry, in order for individuals to develop themselves at an early age and focus expertise. Being aware of opportunities available in education is key; no student is the same, we are not all shaped to the same mold or career routes, and without organisations such as Gaia Innovation youngers struggle to reach their full potential as an individual in education.  Gaia Innovation capture the idea of making the right choice for you;  it is not based on what a school teacher or parent believes is right or even the fact that peers are diverting towards a certain pathway- it all comes down to the individual. Take this quote from Albert Einstein for example. “The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd, the one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen”.

The team behind Gaia Innovation are hugely supportive, as an employer, as colleagues and in terms of creating positive impacts for the youngsters of our generation. From the moment I first engaged with the team I felt a sense of involvement within Gaia Innovation, which as a potential employer is hugely rewarding to think that the organisation you show interest in also share an interest in you.

Since working with Gaia Innovation I have jumped to every new opportunity and working within a forward thinking organisation allows me to provide ideas without the fear of failure, helping to learn from mistakes and reflect on improvements, whilst aiming to bring new skills and progressive ideas to the company.

Read more about Sophie’s Career Pathway