Three times lucky: our IRP apprentice award finalists talk friendship and rivalry

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Three school friends, three apprenticeships, three IRP Awards finalists - it’s like something from the movies. If movies revolved around the recruitment industry, that is…

Every year, in early December, the IRP Awards take place - a celebration of excellence in recruitment and the highlight in many consultants’ professional calendars. Six of our team have been named on the shortlist for several categories, which is absolutely incredible. But, not wishing to do the others a disservice, the story of our shortlisting concerns our Apprentice of the Year finalists.

Callum Bostock, Aiden Howgill and Dan Shields - affectionately known as ‘The Inbetweeners’ -  joined ARM’s apprenticeship scheme together, having been mates for years and in the same class. Friendship, determination and maturity beyond their years have led to this recognition; they took some time away from their desks to tell us how it all happened.

Once upon a time…

It’s a nice story: Callum and Aiden met at school, bonding over dirty jokes and a shared passion for Arsenal. Dan met them a little later at sixth form.

Callum: “We didn’t think much of him at first.”

Aiden: “But he could drive, so we got lots of lifts to college.”

Like many college-leavers, they weren’t sure which path to pursue. Callum went to university, with ambitions of being an architect. Dan worked in Halfords. It was Aiden, having been coerced by our HR director, who attended ARM’s apprenticeship open day.

“At the time I was a bit unsure, not knowing much about the industry and never having looked into it before, but thought I’d go and see what it’s about,” Aiden explains.

A phone call later and Aiden had an interview. When ARM asked if he had any other friends who might be suitable for the scheme, he knew exactly who to recommend. Callum wasn’t enjoying his university experience and Dan wasn’t too fond of his job (“I crashed a customer’s car”).

For three friends who were in the same tutor group; who have spent almost every day – including weekends - of the last five years together, it must’ve been strange to suddenly be colleagues. While Callum jokes that sometimes it’s a bit much, for the most part, it’s not an issue – not anymore, at least. In fact, it’s the friendly rivalry that drives them.

Aiden: “I think every time one of them makes a deal, there’s that drive to go and make a deal yourself, you never want to be left behind.”

Callum: “Aiden got off to a really good start in recruitment and Dan was doing well in his team; that definitely inspired me to try harder. I think that’s why it’s quite ironic that we’re all shortlisted. We’ve definitely all fed off each other’s achievements.”

So about this shortlisting, then...

All three are exceedingly modest about what is actually a huge achievement. The winner’s name will be known throughout the industry; this is an accolade that will boost the LinkedIn profile no end. Despite summarising the many positive impacts they’ve made at ARM in their award entries, the trio were genuinely shocked when the announcement was made.   

“I was very surprised that we were all shortlisted; I think everyone in the whole company was!” Dan says.

Now that the confetti has settled a bit, they each agree that it’s nice to be recognised by the judges and other external agencies. Especially as there appears to be a feeling among them that, because of their age, they need to demonstrate they’re ‘doing well’, while simultaneously gaining reassurance on a personal level - which consequently places even more importance on the outcome of this award.

Callum: “I feel there’s a lot of pressure at the moment for people our age to be working, so it’s good for someone to say: ‘Wow, we’re really impressed’ and to get some kudos from people that you look up to, as when you’re young, that’s what you need – a bit of a boost. To be doing well in your early twenties is like a chain reaction, you go on to do better.”

Dan: “It’s nice to be recognised, to be able to express to people how well we’ve done and have proof there to show that we’ve done well. You’re actually getting recognition and proving to yourself that you are good. “

Callum: “That’s why things like this are good as it makes you feel like you’re actually doing quite well. And it’s great for ARM as well.  It’s a good talking point, I think everyone’s family are proud. I’ve always wanted to be successful –

Dan: “Please win! Your speech will be unbelievable!”

Appreciating apprenticeships

Jokes aside, the guys all appreciate the opportunity they’ve been given and would very much recommend apprenticeships to other college leavers. They say it’s perfect for those who don’t know what they want to do; enabling individuals to gain a qualification and develop skills that can be used regardless of the path they eventually take. And that’s not the only benefit.

Aiden: “Dan and I were toying with the idea of going to university but in the end, decided we didn’t want to put ourselves in that financial debt before we’ve even started life. The best thing to do was to get some experience and learn on the job – and earn while we learn.”

Dan: “I feel it offers good life experience, too, you know, working with people of all ages and getting used to the culture shock that is full-time work! I’m glad we’re here, there’s a good company ethos, lots of friendly people and it’s been great to have so much support.”

Callum: “The ARM Apprenticeship scheme has been run really well - the fact that we’ve been treated like equals is great and this has very much matured us. You work hard during the week and you really feel self-satisfaction and self-worth on a Friday.”

Aiden: “Your weekends feel so much better than when, like, I was working part-time before and your weekends were just like a week day. Now you appreciate the time that you get off and being able to afford to go on holidays abroad, it a big bonus.”

Dan: “You make deals and you can afford the nicer things in life.”

Callum: “At the start of this apprenticeship, it was ‘this looks good, this is an option’ and the rest has followed. We’re all very childish outside of work, but we leave that at the door; come in and do what we’ve got to do. Our priorities are definitely in the right place. It’s good to reap some reward, really.” 

So, who’s going to win?

It’s worth pointing out that there are four apprentices shortlisted for the award, something that’s not lost on the ARM contingent and prompts the reappearance of that modesty. None of them want to jinx their chances nor forget the threat of the external competition. Callum doesn’t mind who wins. Dan ‘couldn’t call it’. Aiden is philosophical about the judging process.

Ultimately, it would appear that simply being named finalists, to be recognised as one of the UK’s top four recruitment apprentices is enough of an achievement. For now, at least. The results will be announced at the IRP Awards in London on 6 December, when we’ll all be waiting with baited breath.

Callum: “It’s a very exciting time, we’re really looking forward to it.”

So are we, Callum!

If you’d like to find out about joining the team and becoming a recruitment consultant, get in touch. We offer great training support and a mentoring scheme to help individuals develop and reach their professional goals.