Jada Thomas, Apprentice Digital Marketer, AoC

#NAW2020 Being an apprentice at AoC

Working as an apprentice at the organisation that represents colleges to deliver these amazing opportunities for students up and down the country has and continues to be a great experience. I work for the Association of Colleges and during National Apprenticeship Week I thought it was only right that I write a little bit about how apprenticeships have changed my idea of further education. A path that has allowed me to gain real life on-the-job experience in an industry that I thought would take a university degree to get into.

At AoC I’m part of the jobs team as their digital marketer. In a nutshell my role involves promoting our vacancies, managing email communications, responding to client and job seeker enquiries and managing our website. Working in my team really motivates me to come up with new ideas, think of interesting content to post and different initiatives in general that could help us grow.

Being an apprentice at AoC has been brilliant so far. Everyone has been extremely helpful and accommodating, I feel like a valued member of the team. This experience has been invaluable, I’ve had my first team meeting, went to my first conference, travelled to Birmingham and so much more and I’ve only been here for three months!

The first month I got to know everyone and went through induction, trying to understand the day to day tasks and challenges that my role entails. After it had passed, I felt like I had settled in quickly and things I was struggling with at first soon became second nature. I also appreciate the time my colleagues spent helping me to feel comfortable and assisting me with anything I was unsure about. This type of support is the difference between enjoying my job or feeling wary day.

I had known that I wanted to do an apprenticeship for at least a year and a half before I started this role. I had also known that university wasn’t the route that I wanted to take, partly because of the debt but mostly because I’m a kinaesthetic learner so the thought of lectures and an abundance of coursework put me off.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of a degree level education is very appealing to me, however after some research I realised that university isn’t the only way to achieve it. With the rise of degree level apprenticeships (level 6+), a new education route, I could continue my education past A levels. This new option brings together the best of higher and vocational training, it enables university study and the invaluable on-the-job training typical of an apprenticeship, without having to rack up the tuition fees.

An apprenticeship, to me, allows so much more freedom to tailor your work and studies around your existing lifestyle. I recognise that London has tons of opportunities, but elsewhere in the country many young people can struggle to find an apprenticeship that works for them. It would be great if those same opportunities existed across the UK for people from all backgrounds.

What I really appreciate about being an apprentice at AoC is the fact that you are not treated any differently. The ethos of teamwork and helping each other out is so strong here. My contributions are recognised just as much as the next person.

Finally, to anyone leaving school and considering next steps, or anyone who is thinking about changing career paths, investigate apprenticeships. For me it was the best option as I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds. A continuation of my education in my chosen field in a college and the practical on-the-job experience that we know is very valuable. With the array of different industries that are now offering apprenticeships, there is a way to find something suited to you.

Jada Thomas, Apprentice Digital Marketer, AoC

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