Is an apprenticeship a good career move?

Our Group Marketing Manager started her career as an apprentice Receptionist in a design agency, having just turned 16 years old! She talks candidly about whether this was a good career move and if she’s ever had any regrets…

What made you choose an apprenticeship over college?

Well, I actually started at college doing A Levels in Media, Theatre Studies and English, I lasted a month - I absolutely hated it. I think I’d just had enough of classrooms and same old, same old. I was dreading telling my parents but they were really supportive and helped me get onto an apprenticeship training provider, who found me a position at a local design agency!

What was it like moving into full time employment having just left school?

I was also one of the youngest in my year group, I’d just turned 16 in August and started full time employment in October. I knew straight away it was the right thing for me! It was so exciting doing something completely new, I was learning so much and enjoying new challenges AND being paid to do it! This also gave me freedom to do other things, like passing my driving test at 17. More freedom!!

What work based learning did you do?

I did 3 NVQs. Level 1 and 2 Business Administration and Level 1 Customer Services. It took around a year to complete all 3 - and I got a pay increase with each completed NVQ!

Did you stop there or did you do any further qualifications?

Actually yes, I went on to do 2 A Levels at night school which took me a year. I did them at Burnley College; A Level English and A Level Law (no idea why I did Law lol). By this point I was 18 and working in a different design agency as a Junior Account Handler and my employer paid for me to do a certificate in Marketing with The Chartered Institute of Marketing. This really helped my professional development and from that point I knew I wanted a career in marketing.

Do you have any regrets about leaving full time education? Such as not going to University?

Haha, no! Loads of my friends went to uni, and I used to go and see them and stay for weekends or the odd week. I got to experience the fun side of uni, but it definitely wouldn’t have been for me. Messy shared accommodation and too much freedom to go out partying! By the time my friends were leaving uni (with huge debts!) I had bought my own flat, had a company car and was an Account Manager in a full service design agency. It gave me the best start in life!

What would you say to someone considering an apprenticeship?

I’m a total advocate of work based learning. I think you get the best of both worlds. You can learn on the job and get work experience – making you a serious contender for job opportunities in the future. I’m still learning on the job! I’m half way through a Diploma in Digital Marketing with the CIM, which is a Level 6 post-graduate qualification. Meaning I can go toe to toe with any uni graduate in a job interview situation with every confidence I could get the job.

I believe wholeheartedly that so long as you have the right attitude, it doesn’t matter which direction you go in - you can do anything you want to, if you set your mind to it!