by Laura Farrington, Social Media Executive at AgencyUK
As this week was National Apprenticeship week, I looked back over the last 12 months I have spent as an apprentice. In February 2014, I successfully applied for an apprenticeship at The Agency, and a year later I have a full time job that I love, and I am living and working in the city of Bath.
When I was looking for a full-time job after finishing University, I spotted the advert for a Social Media apprenticeship on a recruitment site. The description said it was open to graduates, so I decided to apply. I was already applying for that type of role at entry level, but without the relevant practical work experience I needed, I was getting nowhere. I thought this apprenticeship could be just the thing to get me onto the career ladder.
I knew I wanted to work in Social Media so this role immediately spoke to me, and it was only after researching The Agency that I realised that actually… they are kind of a big deal! I was impressed by the awards they had won and the clients they were working with, but what sold it was the picture of the office dog, Oscar!
The apprenticeship with The Agency appealed to me as a sort of placement year or PGCE training type of way, it was another year that would further my education and allow me to gain experience in the industry. Many friends of mine who went to University have gone into teaching, and I could have gone down that route, but it never interested me. I also have some friends who don’t have jobs that are to do with their degree or are necessarily what they want to do in the long run, so I feel very lucky in that sense that I have been able to start a career in my chosen field aged 22.
Whatever career you choose, you need on the job experience to put yourself above and beyond the competition. Apprenticeships are a perfect way to do that whilst growing and learning with support along the way. I attended college one day a week, completing my apprenticeship through Cirencester College as well as work and assessments at home.
Apprenticeships aren’t just handed out – you have to prove your passion and dedication to the role. I have a degree in English Literature with Creative Writing, and had also completed a three month Social Media internship before I applied for the position so I knew that Social Media and Content Creation was the direction that I wanted to go into. I had also been writing voluntarily for magazines and online publications since leaving University to keep active in the Media industry. The amount of people who have to work for nothing after leaving University is astounding. You can’t get a job without experience, and so often you had to be committed to working for nothing to gain that experience.
Comparatively to an internship, you can earn while you learn as an apprentice and the college aspects mean you can continue your studying and broaden your knowledge. Because I attended college one day a week for the year, I now have an extra qualification on my CV and have been able to meet industry leaders from places like the BBC and Aardman Animations. I am not just an English Literature graduate now, but one who knows how to edit videos and images and who knows the basics of photography and sound recording – all skills that will make me stand out when working in Social Media and the Digital Media Industry.
I was thrilled when The Agency offered me a full-time job soon after I had finished completed my apprenticeship, and I now work as a Social Media Executive. I help with the Social side of marketing campaigns for our clients, looking after all kinds of social media platforms, helping with content creation and contributing ideas and thoughts on what to share and when to schedule posts which will drive engagement. I react in real-time on social platforms for our clients and also analyse weekly and monthly data to determine how the campaigns are performing. From the start of my role as an apprentice, I was able to attend client meetings and helped to seed out press releases to local media. Each day is varied and I am encouraged to do the fundamental aspects of my chosen career; to be creative, to be able to write, and to be strategic.
Completing an apprenticeship opens up huge opportunities which starting a job at an entry level wouldn’t necessarily do. As an apprentice, you can be trained and moulded to how a company want you to work and the role can often be shaped by your strengths and interests.
People often believe that apprenticeships are just for vocational job roles, but actually this isn’t the case. I think it is becoming more widely known that they can be another option to University or provide a different route to the career of your choice, but this viewpoint is not changing as quickly as it could.
Whatever career path you go down, you need on the job experience to put yourself above and beyond the competition. Apprenticeships are a perfect way to do that whilst growing and learning with support along the way, especially if you can get your foot in the door of a great company.