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Attracting talent is one of the biggest challenges for many businesses today. Many industries are experiencing skills shortages, but without interesting, enriching programmes to develop these skills, organisations are left to fight it out on the job market

That’s why at Babble, we’re so proud of our apprenticeship programme, where we offer the opportunity for people to learn, grow and pick up skills on the job. But don’t take it from us! 

We spoke to Melissa McMichael, 21, from Dumfries, who is currently training to be a Customer Success Executive as she completes her SVQ 2 Award in Customer Services. Melissa told us all about what it’s really like to be an apprentice at Babble…

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Melissa! We’d love to hear how you found this role at Babble… 

Well, after studying legal services at Dumfries & Galloway College, I’d considered applying for the police or studying law at university, but decided neither of those were for me, so ended up looking for a full-time job. I came across an ad for Babble’s programme online, but all I’d really heard about apprenticeships was that they’re only for school leavers and normally have really poor pay. Not to mention, it was completely different to what I’d done before! 

But I had a good conversation with the college to find out more about what was involved and how it would work for me, and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to work and study at the same time. Not only would it give me an extra qualification, but also the full-time role I’d been looking for, meaning I could learn practical skills whilst receiving additional education. My assumptions about apprenticeship salaries were also misplaced with Babble, and their opportunities for development, progression and post-apprenticeship roles gave me confidence I was making a good choice.

What was it that drew you to Babble?

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Babble when I first applied. I wasn’t super familiar with tech and telecoms either, but that is what appealed in a way – having something different for me to pick up knowledge about. I had an interview over Teams, then one in person, and got a good feeling from the people I spoke to, so thought I should go for it.

It was a lot to take in at first, with a lot of new faces. And there’s so many different aspects to what Babble does. But after a couple of weeks I went to the company event, Babble Fest, where I was able to get a better understanding of what Babble is and does. I also met plenty of colleagues across the company from all over the country, and got to know them better after a drink or two. Now every time I am on a work call, I already know them, which is great.

Can you tell us a bit about your role specifically?

I am currently training in the role of Customer Success Executive (CES), as well as being a customer service call handler. When I first started, I was taking calls for IT, phone and contract support, using programmes like Salesforce and Halo, and logging tickets for engineers.

Now, as a CSE I’ve grown into taking on my own cases, which involves placing orders for customers, such as IT equipment like handsets. So, I give customers quotes and place their orders. I’ve definitely taken on a lot more responsibility over the last three or four months. My role is largely about building relationships with customers, which means lots of communication.

Do you have a favourite aspect of the programme?

I do enjoy the apprenticeship hours and cracking through my study units. You get two hours each week where you’re off the phones and take the apprenticeship time to complete your units. This gives you a good amount of thinking time to get through your work without needing to worry that your job role is going to interrupt your learning. 

That’s something Babble is really good at. I know every company says it now, but they really do make an effort to ensure work-life balance is respected. Not only do we get the apprenticeship time, but we also work a nine-day fortnight to really allow you to enjoy some extra relaxation time. 

Tell us about some of the skills the apprenticeship has helped you develop.

The main thing is confidence – it’s grown a huge amount since I started. I used to hate speaking on the phone even just for ordering food and when I started at Babble I would hold myself back quite a bit. In customer service you can always get difficult situations, but I’ve had the support and training that has helped me keep calm and manage these scenarios.

I’ve quickly developed the confidence to say what I’m thinking and throw myself into solving problems. I know I can do that because the team is so supportive – no one is going to think you’re silly for asking something or making a suggestion. It’s a really good environment to work in, as the team gets on really well and are always full of ideas and advice.

My manager Charlie is really supportive and positive too, which motivates the whole team. You always feel safe with the support managers provide, giving you the peace of mind that you always have someone to fall back on.

What are your plans once you complete the apprenticeship?

I’m not 100% sure yet as I want to explore different opportunities within Babble. There’s people in my office from different departments and roles, so I’m keen to talk to them to get their advice and insight on whether there’s anything I’d like to pursue.

The great thing at Babble is there’s so much flexibility. Even though I’m starting in Customer Success, there’s always room to move around if that’s what I choose to do.  

Any advice for anyone?

I’d say don’t make pre-judgments about what to expect from an apprenticeship. I started when I was 21, and after finishing college I didn’t really consider an apprenticeship as I thought it was something for younger people after leaving school. So, it doesn’t matter what age you are, the apprenticeship is open to anyone and you can apply knowing that you will have a brilliant, supportive team behind you!