I am doing a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship with EDLounge, working for EDClass, which I started on the 2nd November 2020. On average it takes around 18 months to complete an apprenticeship so I am roughly a quarter of a way through my qualification.
After I finished my GCSEs I stayed on at school to do my A levels, unsure what my next steps would be once I’d finished them 2 years later. Through my A levels I had always been encouraged to consider university, which in the end, I ended up applying to. On the 23rd of March 2020, we went into the first UK lockdown cutting our time at sixth form short.
5 months later, I received my A level results and had been accepted into university. As COVID was still a huge issue in the UK I didn’t really explore my options and felt like university was the only real option I had and decided to accept. After attending university for 2 months I quickly realised that I didn’t enjoy my course and university as a whole just wasn’t for me. I started to panic that I didn’t know what to do with my life and where my next steps were heading.
After speaking to a friend from school who had previously done an apprenticeship with EDLounge, and highly recommend it to me, I managed to get an interview with EDClass (EDLounge's sister company who they work with to take on apprentices). I told them I was passionate about social media, marketing and getting brands out there, similar to what I had been doing at uni, however, I felt like an apprenticeship would allow me to learn a lot more on the job.
I was successful in my interview and was offered a job to do a Digital Marketing apprenticeship and I couldn’t be happier where I am now and it's exactly what I wanted to do!
I had heard about apprenticeships before however never really felt like there was ever anything available suited to me so never really explored my options, until I came across a Digital Marketing apprenticeship and realised it would be perfect to me! I love social media and use it everyday in my personal life so, why not bring what I love into my job? I am also really passionate about marketing products, especially via social media, as I feel like there are so many different opportunities it could lead me to.
I think there are so many huge benefits to an apprenticeship, the main one for me being that you earn as you learn. I have always struggled to manage my A levels with a part time job as well as finding the time to spend with family and friends. With an apprenticeship you work a full-time job with only 20% of the work being off job so you have plenty of to enjoy your personal life too.
One thing that put me off with University was the debt. Even though I was reassured this would be paid back gradually, there is no certainty of finding a job after studying, especially during these times, even with a degree. Not only did an apprenticeship allow me to start earning straight away, it also allows me to achieve my qualifications on the job in an office environment and gain real life experience that I can take with me into my future career as well as having a qualification that I can fall back on if I ever needed to. I am a hands-on person and was never any good with exams in school so felt like an apprenticeship would be more beneficial rather than university.
Naturally, my first day was daunting and I was extremely nervous however I was instantly put at ease by the friendly and welcoming team as well as a fellow new apprentice, who also started the same day. I had a mixture of feelings including excitement, nerves and relief that I made the right decision.
The first couple of days were just about finding my feet, getting to know the team and their roles, about the business and completing the usual induction protocols as well as a DBS check, safeguarding and prevent training which I received certificates for after completing. By the end of the week, I was already creating webpages for a new launch with a fellow colleague, creating social media channels with scheduled posts as well as shown how to make an email campaign.
During my first week, I was also enrolled by my apprenticeship supervisor, Michael, where I completed paperwork and got assessed on my English and Maths with basic tests. The beginning of the second week was similar, consisting of getting to know the software and different platforms we use for different things. Then on the 11th of November, 9 days after starting there was a COVID outbreak in the office meaning we all had to be sent home. This was a real test and a weird time for me as I still had so many things to learn, going from an environment when I can ask anyone for help, to being by myself in my bedroom trying to work out how to do certain tasks I was given.
I had a mentor at the time who was extremely helpful and patient with me as I called them throughout the day whenever I got stuck and I feel like I still learned so much even from working from home. This only lasted a week however as then I ended up testing positive for coronavirus myself meaning I had a 10-day isolation/ off work period to recover. Once I had come out of isolation my first month as an apprentice was over and it was December.
Once I was back at work I found I quickly settled back in and became a lot more familiar with my job role and how to work the software and programmes for the jobs I was asked to do. I felt like already after only a month into my apprenticeship I was given a lot of independent jobs that came with a lot of responsibility.
I enjoyed this as it made me feel as though the company already believed in me and trusted me with important tasks. Some of these jobs included creating campaigns and social media posts for the countdown to our new launch in January. I was also given the job of sending marketing emails to non-customers which I ended up getting some enquiries on which gave me a huge confidence boost and the reassurance that what I was doing was working. December was a busy month leading up to the launch of EDClass TV in January and I was given the task to create a schedule of all the social media posts to go out in the new year.
This is where I felt I held a lot of responsibility and took charge of all social media platforms. I was also nominated to take charge of secret Santa which allowed me to gain team leader and communication skills as well as get to know the team on a more personal level.
Over my first and second month of my apprenticeship I had weekly meetings with my line manager where we spoke about how I was settling in, what went well, what could be improved upon and whether I had any concerns. I felt like these were necessary and extremely helpful as it allowed me to see what I needed to work on as well as build a relationship with my manager ensuring me if I ever had any problems I could confidently be able to approach and talk to her. I also finally met my apprenticeship tutor, Rachel, who gave me a debrief of my apprenticeship and the different things I’d learn about along the way
We had some time off over Christmas and once we were back it was time to get into full swing ready for the new launch. Schools were closed at this point so even though the business was quiet it was really important to try and drive as many sales as possible. My main focus and job role was managing all the social media channels where I was able to use and follow the schedule I had previously made.
Towards the end of the month I quickly came to realise that the schedule I had made wasn’t working and we weren’t getting the ideal engagement from posts. One thing that I have learnt with social media is that it consists of a lot of trial and error and some things you think will work don’t and other things do work that you may not have expected to.
It was time for a new focus on social media and to change up what I was doing, so I scrapped the schedule I had previously made and decided to take every day as it came, limiting posts to the maximum of 5 a day and keeping them current and relevant to what was going on in the media.
I also started to check the news at least 3 times a day to keep up with news articles and relevant stories that we could then use to market our product. I tried to make the social media more fun by incorporating polls, riddles, throwback posts and using national days as a way to show what we offer as well as following more relevant accounts to us. Instantly, I could see a huge difference to the reach, interactions and engagements that we received on our posts.
Since changing the direction of the social media, we have continued to follow relevant companies and sites, retweeting information which could be helpful to our followers and keeping the social channels more fun, the interaction and engagement just keeps getting better. We are receiving more likes, comments and retweets, even some from verified accounts. Children also went back to school on the 8th of March and straight away the business became a lot busier and we received a lot more sales. I am continuing to keep social media relevant and fun which is working really well for us.
I have one-to-one meetings with Rachel every fortnight over teams, due to COVID-19 we can’t yet meet face-to-face. On the first fortnight Rachel leads me through a PowerPoint, giving me lots of information where I can make notes and ask questions on anything I don’t understand.
Rachel keeps the PowerPoints specific to me and my job role which is really beneficial as it makes the work specific to my individual learner profile. Rachel then sets me work or assignments that are due back within the 2 weeks ready for our next fortnightly call where we then go over my work, what went well, what maybe could be improved as well as chat about my general well-being and if I have any issues.
I really like this way of learning as I only have to do specific pieces of work every 4 weeks/ monthly and just apply the knowledge I have learnt to my work for the rest of the time. Rachel reassures me that I can contact her whenever I need if I ever need any help with anything. All my work is uploaded to ‘ICQ’ where I can track my progress and see what I have previously learnt and what I have coming up. So far, I have learnt about branding, marketing strategies, SWOT analysis tests and making a marketing plan.
I also have monthly catch-up calls with Michael where we also talk about how I’m feeling outside of work life and he reassures me that if I had any problems, work or non-work related, I can confidently talk to him as well as my other line managers.
I have only been doing my apprenticeship for 5 months and in this time, I can already see the progress that I have made. I have made friends of all ages that I talk to in and out of work hours, which I never thought I would. I feel very comfortable within the business and feel like if I ever had any problems I can confidently approach someone to talk to.
I also feel like part of the team which is really warming for a new starter and no one treats me like I am “just” an apprentice. The CEO of the company, Sam, also sets up and pays for additional courses for me to do to further increase my digital marketing knowledge which makes me feel as though my bosses really believe in me and see potential in me which encourages me to work hard and prove that I can do it. Again, broadening the opportunities for me in the future.
I have learnt so much in the short time I have been working here. Some of these being, how to send email campaigns, how to use programmes such as illustrator to edit content for the social media, I have made Facebook ads that I am able to track as well as google analytics so I can see what is working and what isn’t. I have also been shown how to create landing pages and how to edit our website, but my biggest knowledge is the behind the scenes to social media.
I use social media in my personal life and didn’t originally take into consideration everything that happens behind the scenes for a business and when trying to market a product. Now I know its important to check reports to see our reach, interactions and engagements to know what’s working and what’s not. However, the main thing I have learnt is that social media isn’t as easy as I anticipated and it consists of a lot of trial and error which is hard to understand at first as it can be really frustrating. I have also noticed a lot of self-growth and improvement within myself during my apprenticeship.
I feel a lot more confident and independent, especially from jumping from school to an office environment, I feel better at making decisions as well as teamwork skills and being a team leader.
The next steps of my apprenticeship are to just keep on learning, gaining knowledge and evidence and improving and developing more skills so I have everything I need for my endpoint assessment.
I really enjoy my apprenticeship; no 2 days are the same and I can already see the path it has given me for my future and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering one!