A career path set out for you

By Kathryn Kirk

Daniel Warke is doing a Higher Level Apprenticeship in Customer Service Operations at ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall.

When I was in Sixth Form at Priory College in Holywood, I took a lot of time to think about what I’d do when I left school. I weighed up all the options and decided I wanted to do an apprenticeship.

My main reasons for landing with this decision was because I liked the idea of getting qualifications and working in a professional role. I also didn’t want to graduate and have a mountain of debt.

I started off my doing a Level 3 apprenticeship in a local bank. I then applied to ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall through Workplus for an HLA in Customer Services Operations. I haven’t looked back.

ICC Belfast is the International Convention Centre in Belfast and its sister venues, Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall represent two of Northern Ireland’s most iconic live entertainment venues.

No day is the same

No day is the same and it’s really motivating and interesting to be part of a fast–moving industry. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in so many events and see big names up close. (Haven’t got any famous autographs just yet but give me time!)

My role is customer service focussed, either dealing with customers in person, over the phone or email. There is a really strong culture of support at ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall.

I’ve a clear career path set out for me, and am offered so much in terms of training and support. The managers take such an interest in me and the other apprentices. They really care about how the apprentices are developing, and offer support in so many different ways, including on assignments.

An apprenticeship opens your eyes to the opportunities out there

I attend university on a Monday and then work Tuesday – Friday. Working in an organisation like ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall really opens your eyes to the opportunities available in the future.

I love the industry – particularly the entertainment side – and really enjoy working with people. Later this year, I will move into the management and conference side of the business so I’m looking forward to that. 

I’ve already been offered a permanent role with ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall when my apprenticeship finishes, which is exciting and gives me a lot of confidence in my abilities as I can see how the work that I’m doing adds value to the organisation.  

Doing an apprenticeship makes you more accountable, both in work and study. You build up a great portfolio of experience, get a degree and also have the space for sport and socialising. I play football in Bangor and have a good social life.

Advice to school leavers

I’d advise anyone leaving school to follow their passion. Figure out what you want to do and the best way of getting there.

For me, an apprenticeship is an amazing opportunity – growing in knowledge in the classroom and the workplace. I can then apply my classroom knowledge to the workplace and vice versa.

I definitely feel I’m better set up for the future because of my apprenticeship at ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall.

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