Defining my career path
For most of my final years in school, I was certain I wanted to do an apprenticeship. I was unsure of how to approach it as there is such a huge focus on university applications, especially in sixth form, but not much information on the alternatives. I noticed that there was a lack of media apprenticeships offered and it’s something I had to search around for to find, particularly on the social side. I came across next to none of these and the ones I did find required some sort of experience even at apprenticeship level.
I found out about 26 through a friend who works in Leeds. I was fresh out of sixth form, and I was really intrigued to experience agency work and try office life. Because of the variety of services 26 offers, I'm always surrounded by a broad team with a lot of different knowledge. Choosing an apprenticeship in an agency has helped to broaden my knowledge and experience. I’ve enjoyed working on multiple brands that have different styles and tones, it’s been a great way to develop my understanding of individual needs and different industries.
Getting started at 26
As soon as I had my initial meetings with 26, I felt welcomed and supported. The agency’s culture is very progressive and connected, even when working from home. Although most of the things I’ve worked on this far have been introduced via Teams, I’ve really enjoyed my time and everyone who I have had the pleasure of working with has been approachable and supportive.
Working in an agency meant that there was plenty of new tech to use that I hadn’t been exposed to before. I used Microsoft Office in school, and Teams became a big resource when I was in sixth form during lockdown - so I felt comfortable using these. Coming into contact with new platforms and tech such as Facebook Ads Manager and Google Analytics and learning how to use these platforms has been really beneficial and exciting.
Settling into hybrid working
The time I have spent in the office so far has been really enjoyable and it’s been nice to get a feel of 26 as a whole, but also to be surrounded by my colleagues. I’ve spent more time working from home while following COVID restrictions - but try to get into the office whenever possible. Initially, I was apprehensive about working from home every day as I am still fairly new, but Teams has made this less of an issue. I can still receive the help and support I would in person, just virtually.
The teams across the business are all easily reachable which means I can still ask questions and help my own development. Adapting to working from home was relatively easy for me, as a lot of my final year at sixth form was remote, so I know what works for me, however, I do miss the social side of being in the office. As restrictions are starting to lift again, I’m trying to get into the office a few days of the week, both for my own career development and getting to socialise with different people across the business.
Starting on client work
So far, I have really enjoyed working on the content creation side of things such as creating blog posts, social media posts and ads as it has given me an insight into what goes into social platforms. A lot of this has been identifying ways to present a brand effectively and switch between different styles of writing, which has been a great learning experience. I have also enjoyed working with affiliates on recruitment and banners. I had very little knowledge of affiliates, so working with them on small tasks has been very eye-opening in that I now know there is a lot more that goes into it.
I would like to focus on reporting in the future so I can work with the results and complete the circle. One of my personal objectives is to pitch an idea to a client. Once we’re more regularly back in the office and face to face with clients, I’d like to work more closely with them. This will be great for improving my public speaking skills and confidence in general, something I can take forward in my career. Being in Teams meetings alone has improved my confidence since I joined, but I still have a way to go, something that will come with more experience in different communications.
I am now certified in Google Analytics (basics) and Pinterest Academy, and I’m also in the process of becoming certified in LinkedIn. I had no knowledge of how to use Google Analytics and becoming certified has boosted my confidence. These certifications are skills I can take forward with me and add to my CV, and once I’m more regularly using the platforms, I can expand on some of these courses - getting certified in higher levels.
I have always had a keen interest in media, particularly social as I have grown up surrounded by it. The social side of 26 has given me an idea of what I would like to do in the future. I have been able to see behind the scenes of social throughout my apprenticeship and be involved in creating content, planning content and working on paid social as well. I've also had the chance to do some work with affiliates as previously mentioned, which allowed me to develop my understanding further of other departments within the agency.
What’s next for my career
My time at 26 has helped me to decide that I want to stay in an agency and continue in a similar role. For me, this is a better fit than going to university as I learn best being able to be hands-on, and get involved. What I've learned in my short time here has been more than I imagined, and I look forward to what’s to come. Right now, I want to progress my career in social - but this could change as I explore more areas at 26!
As an apprentice, your role title can be seen to limit you. At 26, the opposite is true - I’ve been encouraged to get involved in meetings, share feedback and express my own ideas. I was asked to complete tasks from the start of my apprenticeship - showing me that I was a trusted and valued member of the team from the start.
I think the demand for apprenticeships from businesses is growing, but as a student, information about university places is still much more prominent. Apprenticeships are harder to find and this is likely deterring people from looking - due to the high demand and low supply, especially in certain industries.
If you’re considering an apprenticeship - go for it! The experience is extremely valuable. You can apply for a few relevant to your interests and see where it takes you. Being surrounded by a team who have more experience in their role and the wider marketing industry can teach you vital lessons.
This apprenticeship has already been very rewarding, and it’s a great place to start a career, being exposed to plenty of different services. An apprenticeship helps you to learn the basics and then expand that knowledge in the field you’re most interested in.
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