Interview with Sonya Lee, Kevin Condon Financial Brokers

TELL us a bit about yourself and your hobbies. What do you get up to out of work?

My name is Sonya Lee, I am 31 years old, and I am from Cork City. I am in my third year of the apprenticeship programme as a life apprentice while employed by Kevin Condon Financial Brokers as a Mortgage Advisor. Before the apprenticeship program I had no previous experience in this area, it was a complete fresh start. I love my job and how interactive it is with clients and how we can help people get a mortgage for their dream home. I am a Mum of a 6-year-old girl who is in school, so life gets busy with work and study but at the weekend I take some time off to relax and spend time with family and friends.

How are you finding balancing studying alongside working?

Balancing work and study can be difficult, but time management is extremely important. I think if you have a good study plan and stick to it as much as possible it will work out well. Taking a specific day in the week for college work and getting ahead of assignments can help so when exam time comes along the worry of completing assignments is over.

What skills do you think you have developed most since joining the apprenticeship programme?

Since joining this programme my time management skills have developed a lot. I can now manage each week a lot better than year one.

This is not simply good for the programme but also for my work and social life in the future. My social skills have also improved a lot, I met a lot of new people while in this programme ranging from students, lecturers guest speakers and clients.

I have gained so much knowledge from each of these people.

My speaking skills and my computer/ admin skills have improved a lot also. We have taken numerous modules like Marketing and Excel and my skills in these areas have developed as I would not have known much about them previously.

What advice about the insurance and financial services industry would you give to anyone hoping to make a career in it?

The best advice would be to have a suitable time management plan in place to help with work/life balance.

Next would be to enjoy your role while completing the programme. If you are interested in the area it helps.

There are many different careers available after the apprenticeship program. You can choose a career in general insurance which involves areas like car and house insurance, or you can take the life route which involves things like Mortgages, Pensions, Life assurance.

Once completed you could always take a completely different route as you leave with a business degree. The insurance industry is a lovely place to work, and each day is different to the next.

What has been your favourite thing about the insurance apprenticeship so far?

My favourite thing about the insurance apprenticeship is the skills you learn along the way as you work and learn.

When I complete my apprenticeship program in August 2023 I will be qualified in my role but I will also have 3 years’ experience to go along with this. That experience is very valuable and cannot be got by just studying.

My co-workers have been amazing help to me throughout the programme with training in my job but also my study. It has been great to have people I can lean on throughout the process. I also loved meeting all the new peop

What have you achieved in the last 12 months that you are proud of?

am most proud of nearly completing this apprenticeship programme while working full-time and being a full-time Mum.

It seems impossible but it is manageable if you put your mind to it. I am working in a job I love while studying and furthering my education.

I am proud of all the exams I have passed which at the time felt stressful, but it is all worth it in the end.

I am also proud and grateful for the new friends and colleagues I have gained through the programme.

Where do you see the Irish insurance and financial services industry in 10 years and how will the apprenticeship programme have contributed to that?

I feel the industry needs an influx of young energetic financial advisers, who have gained experience through this apprenticeship scheme while working day to day in the industry .

The opportunities once finished the scheme are endless. I think the insurance industry will be more versatile with all different age groups and genders in 10 years due to this programme.