Apprentice Survival Tip: Take any opportunity you can to up-skill and take on responsibility
My interest in horticulture really came about by chance when I moved out of my parents’ house. I rented a flat with some friends that came with a garden, and as part of the tenancy agreement we had to maintain the garden. I realised how much I enjoyed doing this shortly after we moved in, so much so that it’s now my ambition to make a career out of it.
I work closely with another apprentice, tending to the horticultural requirements of the University of Sussex’s campus. We have a schedule for various zones across the campus, which tell us what to check and maintain, and these vary by season. We also have a number of independent projects that run alongside these and I’m currently working on redeveloping the flower beds at the University’s Sussex House building. This entails removing the existing plants, returfing the surrounding area, reshaping the beds, and deciding what new flowers to plant.
My ultimate goal is to become a garden designer which will allow me to be creative and exercise all the skills I’ve learnt so far. I’m excited to shape outdoor spaces and show everyone the beauty of nature.
The thing I love the most about my job is the fact I can work outdoors and be among nature all day. I also really enjoy the physical work that goes along with it! When I started I needed to work on my fitness a lot to be able to do everything required of me. Not many people realise how fit you need to be to be a gardener. There’s a lot of manual work such as digging, moving heavy objects, and operating power tools.
There are also a lot of other skills that you’ll need to develop as you progress your career. I have had training in power tools, got my chainsaw licence and got my tractor licence, which are all skills that will help me in my goal to become a garden designer.
Take Any Opportunity
I would recommend to anyone thinking about going into a career in horticulture or starting an apprenticeship to make sure they stay focuses and keep their head down. You need to work hard and I’d encourage taking any opportunity you can get to take on more responsibility, develop your skillset and prove yourself.
Elizabeth Rose Wain has worked for Interserve since October 2014 and works as a Horticultural Apprentice at the University of Sussex.
Apprenticeships at Interserve