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My graduate apprenticeship: Aaron Oreschnick - Deputy Manager @ Pizza Hut, Trafford Centre

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Kicking off a career with an apprenticeship is a great way to get a head start in the field you want to work in.

Aaron OreschnickAnd with companies now offering graduate level programmes there’s even greater opportunity to boost your skills by gaining real life industry experience at the same time as obtaining a degree. 

That’s exactly what Aaron Oreschnick had in mind when he applied for Pizza Hut Restaurants’ degree level apprenticeship programme, held in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. 

Here he reflects on his first year as a graduate apprentice and his ambitions for the future. 

How did you find out about Pizza Hut Restaurants’ degree level apprenticeship and what made you want to apply?

I always wanted to go to university and have actually enrolled twice before. I originally attended the University of Leeds to study music straight out of school but had to drop out due to a nasty bout of glandular fever. Then, I moved to Edinburgh to study art but was forced to leave again after being involved in a car accident. It was such bad luck and, unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to return to university after that. 

Instead, I decided to apply for a job with Pizza Hut Restaurants and have been Deputy Manager at the Trafford Centre Hut for seven years now. I really enjoy how fast paced the hospitality industry is and love that you’re able to meet new people every day. 

I couldn’t believe it when Pizza Hut Restaurants launched their graduate apprenticeship programme. It was the perfect opportunity to get the best of both worlds, allowing me to return to education and study for a BA (Hons) Business Management degree that will benefit my job and future career. 

What have been your greatest achievements and have there been any challenges? 

The best thing about the apprenticeship is that you are able to apply everything you have learned at university to real life situations in the workplace. Over the past year, I’ve studied three key modules; Dynamic Business Contacts, Negotiated Business Projects and Managing and Leading People. It’s been great to get a better understanding of how the wider business operates and to become really immersed in the management side. The university deliberately incorporated elements of our existing training and development programmes so it’s been great to see how they complement each other. 

Deciding to go back to university is a huge commitment though and I’ve had to become much more organised to make sure I can complete all of my assignments on time alongside the day job. 


What are the best things about your job?

I love that every day is different. For the most part, I’m based at the Trafford Centre Hut where I’ll help to manage shifts and make sure all of our guests enjoy their experience. 

It’s actually a really exciting time to work for Pizza Hut Restaurants. All of the Huts across the country are currently undergoing makeovers to give them a new fun and fresh design, and we have also introduced some tasty new menu items. 

I’m also really eager to get more involved in the learning and development programmes too. The company really focuses on encouraging you to develop lifelong skills and pushes you to be the best you can be. They don’t just teach you the technical skills to do the job, we have behavioural and emotional training to help us relate better to each other and build a great working culture. There has also been a big emphasis on supporting mental health and mental health awareness with specific training modules available on things like dealing with stress, anxiety or depression. It’s an area I’m really passionate about so I’m glad to have Vanessa Dodd, Senior Learning and Development Manager as my employee mentor. 

How have you found balancing working life with your studies?  

We have lectures and seminars at Manchester Metropolitan University every month and at first it feels quite strange to be out of the restaurant environment. It’s great to be able to mix with all of the other students though as it gives you a different perspective on your role.  

For me as a Deputy Manager, I have to make sure that the restaurant isn’t affected by my absence. This takes quite a bit of planning and has definitely made me become more organsied. I’m really thankful to all of the management team who have been really supportive and let me swap shifts if I need to prepare for an assignment. 

What do you hope to get out of the degree programme

I’ve always wanted to run and own my own restaurant and the graduate apprenticeship allows me to get one step closer to that dream.

I’m currently on the development pathway to become a restaurant manager which is really exciting. In fact, the work we completed as part of the Dynamic Business Contacts module really helped me to prepare for the interview and assessment centre.

I’ve still got three years left on the course but I’ve already noticed how much it’s helped me to develop both as a manager and a person and I can’t wait to see what the future will hold. 

Why would you recommend the apprenticeship to others? 

University isn’t for everyone, whether that’s because they don’t want to attend from a lifestyle perspective or for financial reasons. However, the programme I’m on has allowed me to return to university without the financial burden and is helping me take positive steps to further my career. I’m becoming qualified and experienced at the same time. It’s great to see Pizza Hut Restaurants leading the industry, they’re the only company in our sector to offer a degree level programme, and it’s amazing to be part of it. 

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