It’s National Apprenticeship Week, and we’re celebrating the work of apprentices and their benefits by talking to our ex-apprentice team member, Katie. She gives us an overview of how she found the course, and how it helped her end up here at Faith.
What made you choose an apprenticeship?
After completing my degree in English & History at the start of the pandemic, I was left in a place where it was difficult to find work or gain experience, particularly at a time when I was eager to try new things and understand where I wanted to be in the world of work. The apprenticeship scheme offered me the attractive option of job opportunities at a junior level without the need for extensive experience, which would also offer me an educational qualification by the end.
I was able to achieve an apprenticeship in digital marketing first with a cleaning products company, with the learning provided by Kirklees College. After being made redundant, I was able to continue the apprenticeship elsewhere, with the second half of it employed by an online adult educational provide and conducted by Estio, who I was eventually awarded by.
What was the process like in finding an apprenticeship?
The process was much easier than job hunting, thanks to the efficiency of the gov.uk website listing the opportunities that were nearby and which training provider they were with, allowing me a structured application process. It took just a few weeks to receive offers for interviews!
How did you find your apprenticeship?
My apprenticeship had some ups and downs—I had my wage raised, then was made redundant, was lucky enough to find a new workplace, only to have my apprenticeship duration run three months longer than it should have—but overall, I found it incredibly educational! I was exposed to different sides of a business that helped me understand how different aspects of administration, digital marketing, communications and sales work, alongside picking up office/workplace skills I hadn’t had the opportunity to learn during school.
For example, a major module in the course was to learn about coding and how to build a website, which taught me a new skill that I wouldn’t otherwise have and would be difficult to pick up in the workplace. I also learned about phone etiquette, particularly around handling customer complaints or problems. One of my biggest challenges was being tasked with writing material for the courses, which exercised my research, copywriting and time management skills.
How did you find college alongside an apprenticeship?
I had two different experiences of attending college alongside work, and both were positive in different ways. With Kirklees College I had one day a week of college classes from home, working on the assignments, projects and other tasks. Attending college on a Wednesday made me feel like a regular student as well as a member of my team at work, balancing the two in a consistent way that gave me continued support in my schoolwork.
Training with Estio gave a different style of learning, with one-to-two-day blocks of online classes once every four to six weeks, relying on my employer to give me 20% of the rest of my time to complete my assignments and projects. This approach made the apprenticeship feel like less of an ‘A Levels alternative’ as the learning was formatted more like training days, thus the assignment work felt more like CPD. This made the apprenticeship seem closer to a workplace role than a college one, making the educational aspect more seamless for me and my employer.
What did a typical week look like as an apprentice?
For the bulk of my apprenticeship, the typical week consisted of several tasks across the breadth of the business—particularly when working at the education courses company, I was taking the lead on customer support over emails and the phone, communicating with colleagues about the work set, updating written content on the website, managing new customer leads, etc. This was alongside compiling evidence and experience for my project work.
What was the highlight of your apprenticeship so far?
A highlight for me was being able to learn about how online education works at my workplace whilst also undertaking an online qualification. When working for an adult education company, I came to understand the ins and outs of what is needed for these qualifications, how they’re graded and certified, and the common difficulties students face completing them.
What opportunities did your apprenticeship open up?
My apprenticeship definitely opened up opportunities for me in the marketing realm, as I was able to find myself here at Faith within a month of searching for the role I was after! Working in PR is a bit of a sidestep from the work I was doing with my apprenticeship, but I truly believe the skills I gained, the experiences I had, as well as the qualification I earned have enabled me to land this role as a content writer, and grow as part of a new team. I’ve been able to transfer my favourite parts of marketing work here, as well as learning new skills and developing myself professionally even further.
What advice would you give someone considering an apprenticeship?
My main advice would be to talk to other apprentices if you can, especially if the workplace has a history with apprentices! They’ll be able to tell you what sort of things they learned and how they balanced professional work with schoolwork throughout their course. There are some things you won’t understand until you begin, which is part of the learning curve of participating in an apprenticeship, but different companies can have vastly different approaches to the apprenticeship scheme. Speaking to someone with experience in the same role as you gives you a great gauge of what to expect.
If you didn’t do an apprenticeship, what would you like to do instead?
I definitely would’ve liked to advance my knowledge in digital marketing some other way—I did take an online copywriting course while I was in the process of applying for my apprenticeship, which helped me capitalise on those skills. However, I can’t think of another opportunity to learn alongside gaining valuable skills in the workplace in the way the apprenticeship scheme provides it.
What skills have/did you learnt from your apprenticeship?
Some of the most useful skills I’ve learned during my apprenticeship have been:
- Working in and communicating with a professional team
- Customer service skills
- Content writing
- Administration/organisation skills
- Social media marketing
- Basic website/SEO optimisation
- Basic design
- Work with CRM