Expelled from school at 15, started an IT apprenticeship and has now just launched his first app, WeGym. So who is Joshua Uwadiae?
Q:You got expelled from school at 15 – I guess in a way education didn’t really settle well with you from the beginning? A:
To be brutally honest I guess, I was just running around with a lot of stuff on the street that caused me to be a bit of a non-conformist. I was a bit of a rebel. That stopped me from fitting in to this form of education so I was just disinterested.
Q:Did you struggle with the academic side of it? Were you more creative? A:
I don’t think I actually struggled with the academic side of learning I’ve come to learn that it isn’t how I enjoyed to learn but at the time I wouldn’t say I was struggling. I think I just didn’t really apply myself.
Q:So you did finish your GCSE’s in the end? A:
I left the first 2 – 3 weeks in year 11 and went to a pupil referral unit before moving onto college. Then I did some level 1s, in IT and that got me on the road to IT.
Q:Had you always enjoyed IT? Was it something you were interested in from the beginning? A:
I was always fairly good at computers, I was always the guy at home fixing the computers and hooking up the wifi. Just little things like that, but I never thought I would make a career out of it.
Q:How did you find out about the apprenticeship? A:
I was already studying IT at college but I hadn’t thought about a career in it. To be honest, the only reason why I was doing it was because I need something to do. I was sort of going with the flow and figured out that I was actually good with computers. I went on a two week work experience scheme with a bank called ING Bank and while doing that – within the space of 10 days – I realised that I had learnt more than I had 2 years of academic education.
I was immersed into the working world and I knew straight away that was what I wanted to get out of this work experience. So I asked the IT director if I could have a job, he said they didn’t recruit that lower level. The advice he gave me was to go out and seek out Microsoft’s application. I went on line and found it, it was through an apprenticeship scheme. I didn’t know what an apprenticeship was before that – I just knew it was a way into the application. During college I spent the rest of that year getting my maths and English qualifications and my focus was on the core subject – my vision had changed, I wanted to do this apprenticeship. I wanted to earn and learn. At the end of that year I dropped out to do the apprenticeship.
Q:Did you have consider going to university to study at degree level? A:
It was off the cards. I would have because they were trying to make me fill out a UCAS application but I refused. I probably would have conformed eventually. It was never on the cards for me.
Q:When you found the apprenticeship what was the process like? A:
It was an application form with my interests ect it was like a personal statement with my CV attached. It was quite weird actually – when we went into the open day for applicants it was like the x factor. We had this group interview with lots of aptitude tests. At the end when it came to decision time people were getting called out one by one and after that I was inducted into the apprenticeship provider’s programme.
Q:So you didn’t know much about apprenticeships beforehand. Did college not really tell you anything about them? A:
I don’t believe so no – Once I had spoken to my careers advisor and told her that this is what I want to do and she was supportive of it. But she told me to finish studying first. She did endorse it after I told her about it – but no one had told me about it before hand.
Q:You did work experience – do you think that had a big effect on your application? A:
Yes! Definitely – it helped me get noticed and it was an incredible impact. When I got my first job at e courier I think work experience helped because the IT manager was a bit of a geek and I remember him saying to me I gave you this role because you were able to demonstrate an interest outside of learning. I was able to get my first job doing IT at the Olympics all because I had some experience with me. I think definitely a critical role within the whole thing
Q:While you were doing the apprenticeship what was a typical day like for you? A:
My cliché day as an apprentice consisted of trying to be on time and then if I managed that I’d come in and then I’d help at ecourier where there are 3 – 400 sub contracted couriers and probably at least 82 had a hand held device my role was essentially supporting issuing and helping with the repair and management of the whole process. A lot of it was managing that part of it and making sure the driver’s information was correct, getting them sent and return, making sure the drivers had any question they had answered, that is the post typical day. Going through all the drivers, giving them the support they need. Going through emails and you know, try and do a bit of learning in my spare time
Q:When you were 19 you were nominated for Microsoft apprentice of the year – how did that come about? A:
There’s an annual award ceremony in June and there’s an application process about a month before. Each year there would be an opportunity to apply for outstanding achievement which is employer nominated. Apprentices can now nominate themselves if they think they’re worthy. I asked my manager to nominate me and we were invited to the House of Commons. I went with my manager and they called me up as the runners up and I couldn’t believe it. Yeah It looks great in my CV.
Q:Now you’re an entrepreneur for the fitness industry – tell me a bit about Wegym A:
We believe that working out is much easier when you have another person or group to push and motivate you. We have partnered with a few gyms and launched the app in both London and Manchester. You can download it here wegym.co.uk/download
Q:Do you think that missing out on the social side of university is a big drawback for many school leavers? A:
I think that for a lot of people they worry about how it’s going to feel when everyone they know goes off to uni and they’re suddenly working or doing whatever they’ve chosen. That’s why platforms like this one and the UNFM society are good, because everyone here is in the same boat and can feel like they’re meeting new people.
Networking is a really important part of what I do, everyone should be networking, it’s what drives a business so it’s important for entrepreneurs as well as apprentices and school leavers.
‘Networking is a really important part of what I do, everyone should be networking…’