Laptop open on wooden desk.
1. What apprenticeship are you doing?
I am currently doing a Level 3 Marketing Assistant apprenticeship with VQ Solutions and SWLEP. The course is 15 months long and involves online learning, with assignments submitted over the duration regarding a multitude of topics. I also attend workshops online about the topics we cover. At the end of these 15 months, I will be examined based on a test, and a project. 

2. What was your journey into this apprenticeship?
I like to think my journey started in 6th form (leaving in July 2019). At this time, I knew that the end of school was just around the corner- all my friends were applying for their universities, but I had always known that I didn’t want to go to university for myself. I hadn’t put all my effort into my A-Levels, regrettably, and by this point I knew that this type of learning environment was not working for me. I had only previously considered going to university for the social aspects- the freedom of moving out, making new friends, and doing the same thing that all my close friends were doing. Essentially, I didn’t want to be left behind. When the time came for the end of school, I was stressed about what direction I needed to head in now that university wasn’t an option for me. 

Apprenticeships hadn’t been promoted to me at 6th Form, whether this is because people only associated apprenticeships with laborious jobs for boys, or whether they thought university was the best route to take, I’m not sure. During the summer that school had ended, I searched for full time jobs. I wanted to move away, to gain the experience of moving out like everyone else was getting, and I thought the best way to do this was by getting a job in Cardiff. I managed to find something- a support assistant for a big brand in the centre of Cardiff. I had plans to stay with family for a couple of months whilst trying to find a flat that was affordable on my salary- this didn’t seem possible.

A couple of weeks before I was due to move to Cardiff and begin this new chapter, I was spotted by a modelling agency in Bath whilst with a friend. I travelled to London (accompanied by my parents, who were sceptical that it was legitimate), and found that it wasn’t a hoax as we had believed. I was quickly signed with this agency- an easy choice for me to make as the prospect of going to Cardiff (for a job that wasn’t in a career that I had ever considered), wasn’t a match for an exciting, potentially high-paying, and easy option. It had been handed to me on a plate, and I was excited to roll with it, as what else did I want? I didn’t yet know. 

For the next few months, I floated along, commuting back and forth to London for photoshoots to build a portfolio. I had the fortune to meet a diverse range of people with amazing talents that opened my eyes to a whole world of creative work. When the pandemic hit, this stopped. There was no opportunity for work for me as it had all been face-to-face. Even before this, I knew I had not really been enjoying myself. A re-occurring thought was that I could not see myself doing this job in 5 years and enjoying it. I had no mental stimulation, other than planning my commute and thinking about my money. I realised that I needed a balance. 

So, during 2020, amidst all the lockdowns, I began to think- I had the time to, so it took some of the pressure off. Knowing that I needed to find a balance was where my search began. I was still signed with the agency, still in this job- it had just slowed down. I made the decision in early 2021 to end this career. I was craving a degree/qualification that I could use in a career that I genuinely enjoyed, but without going to university. I was solely focussed on beginning a career path that I could see myself working in long-term, progressing and developing my skills. 

I got a part time job working as a breakfast waitress in a local pub/B+B. This gave me more confidence financially, and by this point I knew that to fulfil the balance of creativity and logic that I was looking for, I needed to look at marketing. Media, advertising, and marketing had always interested me, even in primary school. It was just the right option for me. Furthermore, to find the balance of getting a qualification whilst having real experience, it was clear that an apprenticeship was the perfect fit. I applied to a few marketing apprenticeships, and fortunately, SWLEP chose myself and another apprentice for this role- I was thrilled with the news and excited for the journey ahead. This feeling has continued as my time here has been wonderful and I feel I am learning more and more every day. I am excited to continue, and I am much more hopeful for my overall career development.

3. What does your job look like on an average day?
As cliché as it is, there is no average day! With launches on the horizon, a lot of focus is going into the development of marketing materials, growing social platforms, creating paid campaigns, filming and editing video content, contacting outside agencies with a specification for a variety of work (this includes business cards, roller banners, website pages, design of reports, creation of film for promotional value), everyday activities such as general posts and promotion of webinars and workshops, as well as posts about local business developments and updates from government organisations and grants. I also analyse statistics, as these are vital in this area of work. Furthermore, we send emails to promote events and services, as well as creating surveys (for example, internally to contribute data for our commitment towards the SME Climate Hub). Alongside these examples, I have assignments to complete for my apprenticeship- these are not counted towards a final grade; however, they are crucial in the application of what we have learnt and skills we have developed whilst on the job. I also attend workshops to support this. We have regular meetings to stay up to date with each other, and to discuss projects that are upcoming. Generally, throughout the day, myself and the rest of the marketing team work closely to produce this work efficiently and at a high quality. 

4. Do you get a qualification and progression?
At the end of my 15 months in this course, I will receive a Level 3 qualification as a Marketing Assistant. This is equivalent to A-levels and will allow me to progress further in this career- whether this is pursuing a higher level of qualification in another apprenticeship in this career, or if this is finding a job as a marketing assistant/marketer using this qualification. I am certain that the skills I have already been developing will only progress further, and I am motivated to continue within this career path- something I could not say this time last year. 

Doing an apprenticeship is something I could not recommend more. With real life experience truly reinforcing the learning aspect of the role, I find myself being sincerely supported from all aspects, whilst pushing myself to accept challenges and overcome them. In my opinion, and the way I learn most effectively may affect this, apprenticeships are genuinely highly valuable in developing skills that are both needed for work and for life.