Meet Our Apprentices – Dillon Laing

Dillon Laing – 17, Leith

What apprenticeship programme are you on at the college?
“I’m on a Foundation Apprenticeship in Financial Services and started the apprenticeship whilst I was still at school.”

Who is your employer? What do you do day to day with them?
“I work for Standard Life doing financial management analysis. I’m responsible for dealing with internal budgets – getting the correct money to the correct people, making sure expenses get put through the books, dealing with orders, filing, proofing and so on.”

How have you found the experience? Have there been any challenges?
“At the start, it was quite challenging – getting to grips with a lot of codes and financial technicalities. Standard Life has been excellent though, they’ve helped me develop and settle in – I get emails every day asking how I’m getting on and offering me mentors.

“Mark (Smith) at Standard Life has been amazing. I can see him making a huge change in the company in terms of employing young people. He’s really showing how capable school leavers are and gives you the opportunity to achieve regardless of your age or background. I remember he gave everyone on my college course his email the first time he met them – that rarely happens.”

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about doing an apprenticeship?
“I left school as soon as I joined the course and got the job at Standard Life. I was sitting my Highers at the time but decided to take the risk and drop them. I didn’t do so well academically and knew straight away that I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity.
“If you’re not getting the results you want at school, and you’re thinking about going down a different path, I’d one hundred percent say jump. Have a look at college courses because college is different to school – I’ve found it much more hands on and comparable to real-life.”

“The best tip I can give anyone is don’t be shy, and go the extra mile. I got on the course because I directly contacted the lecturer and explained a bit more about who I was and why I wanted this.”
“Anne Ferrier, our lecturer, has been amazing too. She’ll pop down to Standard Life in her own time and make sure I’m doing ok – that means a lot.”

What are your ambitions for the future?
“I definitely want to stay with the company – build my way up in a stable role.”

What’s been your best moment so far?
“The day of my interview at Standard Life was a special moment for me. The interview process is intense but I was really proud of how I presented myself and came into my own. For the group task we had an hour and a half to set up a pitch to eight managers. That’s nerve wracking.

“Once I got the job I went a step further and asked for feedback. I’ve continued to do that and it’s helped me so much. I applied for a more senior role within the company recently and asked for feedback when I didn’t get it. I can’t say enough that it’s so important you have the guts to pick up the phone and push the employer for advice. That’s when you find out your weaknesses, as well as your strengths. I’m only 17 and I’ve already got my foot in the door.”