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From Apprenticeship to Agency

Our new Digital Content Creator, Ell, talks about completing an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing and jumping headfirst into agency life here at Splitpixel.

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Ell
Posted by Ell
9 October 2020
   

What led me to an apprenticeship

I left university in 2016 with a degree in English Literature and very little idea of what sort of career I wanted to pursue. Like many graduates (especially English Lit grads), taking that step into the professional world can be notoriously tricky.

It wasn’t until I did some social media management for a restaurant where I worked that I really decided I wanted to enter the world of digital marketing. As an industry, it offered a chance for me to put my writing skills and social media obsession to good use! Also, it’s not going anywhere – the digital marketing industry grows every year, and this security was appealing to me when so many industries are at risk.

While I was always a hard worker and did part-time jobs in retail and hospitality to support myself throughout my degree, I couldn’t afford to do unpaid internships like some of my peers. This made breaking into the industry a bit of a struggle, so (after a bit of research) I decided to begin an apprenticeship.

While apprentices are sorely underpaid, they get paid something, and this meant I could afford to learn new professional skills while continuing to pay my bills! I knew I was passionate about making a career out of it so saw the apprenticeship as an investment in my future – as corny as that sounds!apprentice

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What the apprenticeship entailed

Through my apprenticeship I worked as my company’s sole in-house digital marketer which afforded me full freedom in figuring out what I really enjoyed and found rewarding while I was learning the ropes. It also meant a lot of responsibility laid on my shoulders and I had a lot of ground to cover.

In my first six months I set up a full automated email marketing system from scratch (which included choosing an email marketing service and writing all the emails), organised a professional photoshoot, and managed several marketing campaigns from planning to evaluation.

I also learned a great deal from my apprenticeship provider during training sessions – such as learning to code in HTML (a skill I’d never have seen myself getting to grips with before). Gaining a formal qualification was a big motivator for me so balancing this training and developing an assessed portfolio alongside my day-to-day work was really important for me.

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What I gained as a person

As well as professional skills, I learned so much about myself throughout the experience. It forced me to be self-sufficient. Without other digital marketers to bounce ideas off, I had to seek out information for myself. I worked remotely for the entire year – and this was before the lockdown hit – so I was working alone most of the time. This was a challenge as I’m such a social person and I began to really miss the social interactions I’d got from working in retail.

My two cats kept me company and I figured out how to motivate myself without a manager or colleague nearby. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would prove invaluable after lockdown began and remote working became the new normal for so many businesses. While everyone was adjusting, I was getting on as usual!

Overall, the apprenticeship couldn’t have set me up better for working in a web development and digital marketing agency like Splitpixel because it gave me an insight into all of the specialisms that make up a digital marketing and web development mix. This comprehensive background set me up for success as a content creator because I have a better understanding of the goals of my teammates working on different aspects of a project. Having a very basic technical knowledge of web development means I’m able to work well with developers and understanding the basics of SEO means that I know where search marketers are coming from.

Most importantly, I found a love of writing I’d not experienced since my degree and being able to explore my creativity and find out exactly how I want to work was such a worthwhile experience.

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My thoughts about apprenticeships

I’ve personally learnt to ignore the unnecessary stigma against apprentices, including my own self-doubt and my internalised feeling that apprenticeships aren’t for people like me who already have degrees. More than that - the whole process has really given me more respect for people who choose the apprenticeship path rather than the degree path.

Given the chance to do it all over again, I might have seriously considered the more practical path (rather than the degree route) myself. Apprentices end up just as qualified and have practical, professional experience that graduates might not have yet. They’ve also had to work really hard to balance their job and their coursework, something that shouldn’t be underestimated.

We should never be afraid to admit there’s more we can learn. More importantly, we should never be afraid to take a step back and challenge ourselves to change the path we’re on. My apprenticeship improved my writing immensely and gave me the chance to learn things I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Now I work in an agency with a team of creatives and developers where I can really get my teeth into content creation and put my writing skills to good work. My team of likeminded, supportive content creators are the perfect colleagues for me to grow and develop alongside. They’ve already taught me so much in my first couple of months at the company and they’re really passionate about what they do - they’re some of the most creative people I’ve ever met and I’m lucky to be amongst them!

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Final thoughts

I would really encourage employers to consider hiring candidates who have completed an apprenticeship qualification or, better yet, work with an apprenticeship provider to let someone with great potential develop their technical skills while they work with you. (Oh – and pay your interns!)

I’m pleased to say I passed my apprenticeship with distinction, but I’m even more proud of the things I learned about myself along the way. I couldn’t be happier in my new role at Splitpixel and I’m really excited to see what the future holds.

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 Read more about the Splitpixel Team.

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