Joe's Story - The Life of an Apprentice

Exeter College news article

Date: Monday 06 March 2017

Joe completed an digital marketing apprenticeship with The Lead Lab while studying 1 day a week at Exeter College to obtain a professional qualification. After completing A Levels at his school sixth form, he decided that continuing on an academic path to university was not for him. Seeing the importance of engaging content in his industry, Joe has written this blog and started his own company, The Social Media Lab, to help other companies grow their digital impact with all the skills he has learnt.

Apprentice life is great! I mean, we learn, we develop and we are continuously building satisfying relationships, with students and business owners in the same industry.

Rolling back a few years, I completed my A-levels in school and decided that University wasn’t for me - I never really grasped the academic life and felt that I needed to see a change in my lifestyle. A-Levels would not have been my first choice had I known any differently, as I was never really educated on apprenticeships in school, and to be quite honest with you, I don’t think anyone really was. When I was at school, they carried a negative connotation; if you didn't get the grades for sixth form, then an apprenticeship was for you. However, this couldn't be any more inaccurate. If only I was provided with the full knowledge around becoming an apprentice; what they can ACTUALLY do for you as a person, what you can achieve when studying as an apprentice, and how valuable they really are. If I had known all of this prior to my unsatisfying decision to study for A-Levels, I would have started an apprenticeship a LONG time ago.

My occupational background was always in hospitality, an industry where I really grew fantastic communication skills which have been transferrable into my current role. However, after working in restaurants, bars and hotels for over 5 years, I decided to quit, primarily due to the unsociable working hours. I lost my social life, so I guess I wanted to be able to find a happy medium until I found something that really grasped my enthusiastic energy. Months had passed by, and I found myself in and out of jobs, just to get regular money in whilst making a decision on what I wanted to do. Soon after, I was offered a job as a Digital Marketing & Social Media Apprentice. Having existing knowledge on Social Media, and spending copious amounts of time procrastinating through news feed after news feed, I realised how much time I spend building relationships across Social Media, and that this would be a fantastic opportunity.

Over 12 months ago I started my apprenticeship, and at the age of 22, the National Apprentice Wage was quite low (let’s be honest), but the journey has been an incredible one in which I have NO regrets. I decided upon a Digital Marketing & Social Media apprenticeship, an industry that’s massively in-demand in this day and age, and have always been a keen lover of Social Media. I joined the company with little knowledge and experience, but was determined to learn and focused on developing my skills in the industry. Before I knew it, I was in at the deep end, managing clients’ social media accounts and developing plans and strategies for them whilst handling all digital marketing for our own company. This gradually flourished into having more and more responsibilities, which was exactly what I needed; a constant workflow that kept me busy, but focused on my goals and where I wanted to be in the future.

Soon after, my employer approached me with the opportunity to create a Social Media Marketing business. THIS is when things started to get real. We were already offering Social Media marketing services to businesses, so why not create a brand and start building a client base within its own entity? So, a few months ago, we sat down to develop a plan and a strategy for moving forwards, which started with finding a suitable name, The Social Media Lab, before building the website.

I used to have my normal working week in the office, with one day a week at college, followed by many hours of website building and branding for the business. The days at college were fantastic, valuable and gave us an opportunity to chat with other young marketers in the same industry. I have been lucky enough to build some great relationships with the students, and can definitely see a couple of opportunities for something in the near future. These are all students that listen in class, that want to do well, and want to progress as individuals.

Looking back to my pondering years as a youth, and looking at where I am today, I couldn't be prouder and more happy with my achievements. It’s changed me as a person; it's made me so much more confident around my ideas, I’m not afraid to try something new, and definitely not afraid of failure. It’s also given me the foundation to start a business, and the ability to develop and grow a Digital Marketing brand. I am extremely excited for my journey ahead, and what it could hold for me. My apprenticeship has changed my life, and I hope more people understand the value in them and what achievements can be made in such little time.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Ignore stereotypical views about apprenticeships, research everything about them, they are valuable, they do help, and they can change your life.

If Joes story has inspired you to look at Apprenticeship options, please visit our website for all the latest vacancies or come a speak to our advisers and employers at the Apprenticeship Careers Expo on the 9th of March.

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