Nationwide’s Dario Brizzi is part of a new generation of apprentices taking the direct approach to career development:
At the age of 19 not many first-time jobs would include planning social media campaigns for a major building society – but that’s been just one of the highlights in Dario Brizzi’s 18 months as Nationwide’s Media Relations Apprentice.
The night of 15 November 2013 found Dario at our Swindon headquarters, co-ordinating live Twitter coverage of one of the year’s biggest TV events, and getting the word out about our support for BBC Children in Need. It was an idea he’d developed himself and pitched to senior Nationwide executives before being there on the night to deliver a constant stream of tweets and raise the profile of our fund-raising efforts. Such opportunities to put his ideas forward and make a difference is something that is really important to Dario.
Learning by doing
“I’m adding value in every little way that I can really,” he says. “I’ve been able to get involved in some things that have proved valuable to the team and it’s great that I’ve been able to move projects of my own forward. Getting recognition at a high level is really important to me. There are people here who have been in the job for years and getting exposed to the same level of work as them is really exciting.”
The image of apprenticeships has gone through a major transformation in recent years – and not just because of a certain TV show. Once considered a viable option only for tradesmen and other blue-collar jobs, today they are a vital way for driven school-leavers to learn skills whilst earning – and get some important steps ahead on a very competitive career ladder.
Gaining an edge in the career search
“Career development was always very important to me when I was at college,” says Dario, who attended St. Joseph’s Sixth Form College, quite close to our Swindon offices. “It’s tough nowadays with a lot of people competing in the jobs market, and becoming an apprentice was really about opening up career development opportunities as quickly as possible. It wasn’t that I couldn’t go to university; it was just that I wanted a better foundation for life – and I thought this was the best opportunity out there.”
The ad that Dario saw for the Nationwide apprenticeship confirmed that this was the course he wanted to take. “I was looking for the chance to pick up qualifications whilst doing a job that would push me forward, and I hadn’t been certain how much responsibility apprentices would actually be given,” he explains. “It was the roles that were listed on the Nationwide ad that really made me take notice. Learning by doing is very important to me and it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a post where you just sat around and watched.”
Dario went through a three-stage selection process before landing his Media Relations role, including three separate interviews and an assessment day, when the selection panel observed how he and fellow shortlisted candidates interacted on a specific task. But the final role was well worth the demands of the process.
The appeal of the unexpected
“I tend to get in before 9am because I like to start the day organised,” says Dario. “There are certain tasks that I’ll do every day like monitoring the news coverage and seeing if particular stories need to be sent out to members of the team, but it’s things that come up which you can’t predict that are most exciting. I’m always there to help and support the team and that takes me in lots of different directions: research for news stories or sourcing facts and figures for social media content; it’s all really interesting.”
With his apprenticeship qualification already under his belt, Dario is now working on his first PRCA certificate in public relations – and he has no hesitations about recommending the path he’s taken to other school leavers.
“Definitely take a look at apprenticeships, but make sure you are 100 per cent up for it,” he says. “It needs to be a role that you will enjoy and will challenge you because at the end of the day you will get out of it what you put in. If people see you are working hard, they will give the same level of commitment back to you.”
How Nationwide can help
If you’re interested in exploring apprentice opportunities at Nationwide, visit our Apprenticeships Programme pages on our website.
And if you’d like to discover more about apprenticeships in general, visit the National Apprenticeships website.
Are you interested in a career with Nationwide? Click here to apply for vacancies.