Written by Adarsh Ramchurn - 05 March 2020
For many, a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship provides the best of both worlds – read one student’s experience and see for yourself...
I applied for a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) because I am eager to develop into a successful and inspiring leader – one that has a positive impact on society. I also wanted to complete a degree, but also wanted to get an experience of working; a CMDA was the best option for me, as it enabled me to complete both.
I was drawn to my specific CMDA studies (Business Management with Social Change Degree Apprenticeship) because I want to have a wider social impact that helps to better our society. I am passionate about solving challenging issues affecting society, which I’ll be best placed to contribute in a management and leadership position. I am passionate about tackling issues that exist today, such as the lack of BAME diversity in management and leadership positions, racism and knife crime. These issues mean a lot to me, so knowing that some of the work that I am doing at the RSA as well as my university studies are giving me the skills to combat these problems is the biggest reward. The opportunity to do this at a forward-thinking and progressive organisation like the RSA will mean I can develop my skills in a not-for-profit context – in a completely unique experience.
What I’ve learned so far
The CMDA so far has been above and beyond my expectations. I have been able to take part in projects, assist delivering events, and network with many exciting people in the industry. Six months in, I have already developed so much, in part due to the positive feedback on my journey and progress so far. A lot of this is in response to the blogs I write for the RSA website, on topics including National Apprenticeship Week and BAME Diversity; I have been told that my blogs have been “very clear, evidenced, very well written, and convincing”. Feedback such as this has motivated me to continue writing blogs and get my message out there.
I have also been given great constructive criticism from my colleagues at work that are helping me to develop. For example, one colleague mentioned that I could better synthesise my research on a topic, as it would allow for an improved outcome for the project; this feedback made sense and prompted me to be precise when researching. I have also developed my writing and questioning skills by receiving feedback on it, which I feel will enable me to become a positive role model and manager in the future.
I have also found great advice and feedback in many of the networking opportunities I have undertaken since starting the CMDA. One piece of feedback that has stuck with me is that I need to continue being “hungry to make mistakes”, which has impacted my behaviour as a young person in the workplace. There have been times where I have not shown confidence because I’m afraid to make mistakes – but this advice has taught me to put myself out there to learn and develop, even if it means making a mistake. I’m becoming more proactive and fearless at work.
The unique benefits of a CMDA
I find the flexibility of the course great: with two days at university and three days at work there is a good balance between studying and working, which suits my needs as a learner. The two days on campus means I can be flexible when studying and revising the content of the lectures and seminars, which is something that I think that not all CMDA courses offer; they tend to involve just one day at a university or college studying. These two days mean I can gain the ‘student experience’ – I attend The Queen Mary Hindu Society, where I have taken part in the football sessions and Hindu events.
The flexibility of the course means I can get access to opportunities outside university and the RSA. For example, I was able to speak on radio for the BBC Asian Network, where myself and another apprentice spoke about our course as well as our goals for social change. I have also been able to attend network events at NCVO and The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which have provided me a platform to meet and learn from professionals in the industry.
The office experience
I didn’t envisage having a big impact on the organisation in such a short space of time; learning and absorbing everything that the RSA has to offer and teach is such a unique opportunity. tMy colleagues and everyday projects motivate me to go into work everyday and have a positive influence, work diligently and be myself. Everyone at work has been so friendly and welcoming, especially when I come to ask questions. This work culture has enabled me to enjoy working for the RSA, while continuing to develop and progress.
I can use the theoretical learnings and translate them into the workplace, and vice versa. I have been able to use my understanding from a marketing module to understand the RSA’s approach behind advertising and its branding; I have also been able to relate my insights of the organisation’s structure and culture in an organisational behaviour lecture. This is what I find the most interesting thing I would say about the CMDA; making connections between my university studies and work at the RSA.
If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, find out more about studying with CMI here, or find more FAQs. In a recent survey conducted by CMI, 87% of graduates were in full-time employment since completing their CMI-accredited degree, with an average salary of £30k.
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Adarsh is a degree apprentice at The Royal Society of Arts. He is completing a CMDA in Business Management with Social Change at Queen Mary University of London, and is currently in his first year.