Josie already knew about the benefits of regular saving before she started as an apprentice Customer Service Assistant with Darlington Building Society.

Her mother had opened an account for her when she was young, which transferred to Josie when she was 18, and she also opened her own accounts to save for things like Christmas and holidays.

Now 19, she can be found behind the counter of the Northallerton branch, helping customers to open, and manage, their own accounts.

“We’re just a small team of four,” Josie says, “but it is a busy branch. Customers like to come in and ask questions, so that they have all the information they need before opening an account.”

This means that Josie needs to know what to tell them, which she is learning during her on-the-job training, as well as at her day-release at Middlesbrough College.

Josie started in September, at the same time as eight other apprentices, and she admits that she misses seeing them at college.

“We all got on really well when we first started, but, because of Covid, we’re doing our studies on-line from home, so we’re not getting together on day-release like we would have,” she explains.

They might not be able to share their training experiences, but there’s always someone on hand in the branch to help.

“We’re a close team at Northallerton, which is lovely,” says Josie. “I’m usually on the counter by myself and have managed to deal with most things, but if something crops up that is not part of my job, I can ask one of the Customer Service Consultants, or the Supervisor.”

Josie has always enjoyed customer-facing jobs. She previously worked part-time as a waitress at the famous Betty’s Tea Shop in Northallerton, but was furloughed when coronavirus hit. She kept herself busy with her own sewing business, but was keen to find a full-time job, so she started looking at what was available, and saw the vacancies with Darlington Building Society.

“Being on an apprenticeship programme offers a really good opportunity to get a qualification alongside working,” she says. “Once I qualify, I would like to think that I could progress to train for a position as a Customer Service Consultant with the Society.”

A step up means more responsibility, dealing with a variety of more behind-the-scenes admin tasks to assist customers. These could include payments from members accounts to other banks; sorting out deceased customer accounts; or dealing with customers on the phone, rather than face-to-face.

It’s a challenge that Josie looks forward to in the future. In the meantime, she’s happy to be one of the friendly faces on the counter of Darlington Building Society.