An Apprenticeship is a Great Place to Start Your Career

Published: 19/09/2019 by Kayleigh Walter

2019 is here and you might have decided that your goal for 2019 is to find a job you enjoy, something you can see yourself doing for the long term. It’s not an easy goal, in fact, it’s probably one of the hardest to achieve, but one year I decided it would be the year I’d start my career, and it worked!

I found it through the apprenticeship scheme and it was the best decision I ever made, even though I started off dismissing the notion completely.

door, foot in the door, yellow, stand out, building

The truth is, it’s hard to get a foot in the door in the creative industry, trust me I know. I graduated with a First Degree Honours in Graphics and Media Design and did it really benefit me? No, not at all. I was told when I was at Uni ‘it doesn’t matter what you get in your degree because no one cares if you get a 1st or 2.1, all they see is the word ‘degree’’ and I didn’t understand how this was right, but I learnt that hard way that that’s how it is. 

No one in the industry really cares if you graduated at the top of your class, it’s all about the experience. But not just any experience. I was the Editor of my University’s termly magazine, which I rebranded, for 2 years. I was the Media and Publicity Officer for the Student Union for 2 years and I did freelance work for a number of local companies and charities throughout my time at Uni and College, alongside other commitments. I thought this ‘extra stuff’ would be a great way to get me one step closer to getting a job in the industry, plus 2 work experience placements, I honestly thought I’d stand a better chance of standing out and getting noticed by potential employers. 

It makes me laugh looking back now, but it really doesn’t work that way. I applied for application after application and my emails went ignored, and I don’t know what’s worse, being told they didn’t want to consider you for the position or deciding you weren’t even worthy of a response. When I was lucky enough to get interviews, no one cared about my 1st and the design experience I had, wasn’t considered ‘enough experience’ for the industry.

So I thought, okay I’ll try and get some free work experience in my local area to try and increase my experience and employability. To no avail, once again my emails went ignored and I got nowhere. I started to lose my way and honestly, I started to feel like I was never going to get anywhere, that I was never going to get into the design industry and it was horrible.

Then my brother told me to try an apprenticeship, I dismissed the idea almost right away. Why did I need to go back to school? Could I really afford to take a pay cut? Eventually, though, I gave in and I signed up for the apprenticeship scheme on the Government's website and I kid you not, it’s the best decision I have ever made. 

The Government's website is not the easiest to navigate and it can definitely be a bit of a headache, but it’s worth the minefield. There are loads of apprenticeships available in a wide range of sectors and you can filter through them at your own leisure. The application process will differ depending on who the educational body is for your specific apprenticeship. 

I applied for some apprenticeships through Exeter College and it was like a breath of fresh air. My emails were returned, I was part of the discussion and it was a great feeling. I was very fortunate enough to be offered a position at my first choice of apprenticeship.

college, laptop, book, backpack, apprenticeship

Yes I did grumble about the idea of going back to college, ‘I’ve graduated from University, why do I need to go back to college?’ But after my first lesson, I looked forward to it. Although a Designer by trade I did an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing so there was, in fact, lots for me to learn. 

That being coupled with a great company, team and work environment, it made the whole transition easier and much more enjoyable than I had expected. Sure there were, and still are things I don’t understand and it’s a little uncomfortable, not knowing, but it’s absolutely fine because I am here to learn as well as work. 

Actually having the opportunity to work and learn at the same time is one I can’t believe I turned my nose up at it. It’s absolutely fantastic to be able to have time to learn as you create and if I get stuck, I’ve got the support of my team and the college. 

Graduating from Uni and feeling helpless is horrendous and something that could potentially happen to you because as much as it sucks, getting a job in this industry, as in any industry, it really is about who you know. If you don’t know someone who can help you get that foot in the door, it will be a hard road. I’m sure whatever way you decide to go forward it will be a long road, but it will be one that is worth it and I just don’t think you should wipe the idea of an apprenticeship off the table as I did. They can give you the potential to learn a new skill while earning a living and not only that, it’s a foot in the door.