From football to finance: Teenager named apprentice of the year
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 August 2019
After injury halted Vassi Mladenova's promising football career, she wasn't sure what to do next.
But the teenager, who had been on the books at West Ham United, has gone on to be named east London's apprentice of the year by a social mobility charity.
And Vassi's achievement is all the more remarkable given she arrived in the UK from Bulgaria just four years ago, speaking only a limited amount of English.
The 18-year-old, who lives in Barking, was recognised for her efforts by Leadership Through Sport and Business (LTSB) after completing a programme that saw her land a job at accountancy firm BKL.
Vassi said: "I was really happy to win the prize, everyone worked so hard during the programme so to be singled out is a real honour.
"Being named apprentice of the year was overwhelming - getting recognised for the work I've put in to develop myself and show my potential was a great feeling.
"LTSB has been a massive part of my life and I wouldn't be where I am without it.
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"The support I received helped me to feel comfortable in the corporate world and set the foundation for my future career."
The LTSB programme is designed to help participants from disadvantaged backgrounds to secure jobs in business and finance.
Their speed interview seminars, where apprentices are put through their paces at mock interviews, played a role in Vassi securing her apprenticeship.
The initiative - supported by the West Ham Foundation - provides an alternative to university by offering a clear career pathway for 16 to 21-year olds interested in a career in finance.
Part of the course involved taking training sessions for youngsters at West Ham to encourage leadership skills.
David Pinchen, the founder of LTSB, said: "It has been a privilege to have Vassi on our programme because she has been a shining example to others.
"She really worked hard and set about her work and new responsibilities with tenacity and vigor.
"She was given an opportunity and seized it with both hands, I hope she goes onto have a very successful career."