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'I looked at a gap year, but chose an apprenticeship'

As part of the #InspiringApprentices campaign, Kiera King explains why an apprenticeship was the right choice for her

Apprentice Kiera King talks to Tes as part of the InspiringApprentices campaign

My name is Kiera, I am 20 years old and live in south-east London. For the past six months, I have been completing a level 3 digital marketing qualification with Whitehat whilst gaining on-the-job training as part of the marketing team at Christie’s.

Whilst I was at sixth form, I received very little careers advice about alternatives to university. This meant that I had to do a lot of independent research in order to find out what opportunities were available to me. I spent a long time looking into alternatives; a gap year, volunteering, internships, entry-level jobs and traineeships. All sounded respectable, but just wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Then I discovered Whitehat and the apprenticeships it offered within marketing.

More on apprenticeships: 'I was steered towards Oxbridge – but became an apprentice'

Background: Tes launches #InspiringApprentices campaign

Other news: Minister backs #InspiringApprentices campaign 

Initial anxiety about apprenticeships

When signing up with Whitehat, I had no idea what to expect; it was an organisation that I had discovered through a Google search. I could see that it had many positive reviews but was still apprehensive about what I should expect. Turns out, Whitehat has been incredible. They have gone above and beyond to help me with my journey as an apprentice.

Whitehat has offered me so much support through its community, providing opportunities to learn and develop as an individual; through events such as: Google Garage workshops, webinars as well as by running their own mentoring scheme. Before meeting Whitehat, I had very little knowledge of what was involved with an apprenticeship.

However, through attending various events at their offices, they clearly outlined the specifics of what was involved; this made me realise how well suited I was to an apprenticeship. Getting a qualification whilst gaining on-the-job training seemed (and is) the best of both worlds! My family and friends now understand what I am doing and can clearly see how much satisfaction I am getting out of this opportunity. Therefore, they are now able to fully support me as I start my career!

Within marketing at Christie’s I work within the digital design team. I get to work on banner advertisements, animations, emails, social media posts and email signatures (just to name a few!). I also get the chance to shadow other teams within the department, meaning I get to assist in photo/video shoots as well as on exhibition installations. This makes my job very stimulating as every day I get to do something a little different.

My team are also very thoughtful and aware of the fact that I also have to complete coursework and study content for exams. Consequently, they make sure to offer me support wherever they can to make sure that I don’t feel overwhelmed with my workload; this is something I am incredibly grateful for. I love every aspect of my role at Christie’s, I have already learned so much and been involved in many different opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.

I wouldn’t say that you can compare the experience of an apprenticeship to the experience of university, as they are very different to each other. University has a lot more social elements involved. Nonetheless, Whitehat has created social events and peer learning opportunities to ensure that we get the opportunity to meet other apprentices. Some of these events include; seasonal parties, networking drinks, skills workshops as well as sports teams. Giving us these opportunities has really helped to stop apprentices feeling isolated and alone within their workplace. I assumed that by doing an apprenticeship, I would struggle to have time to see my family and friends as well as participate in my hobbies outside of work. However, I was wrong. I still have the time to do these activities, in fact, it has made me appreciate them more as I now have to prioritise my time. I still don’t know where I see myself in 10 years, as I don’t like to worry myself about the future. Nevertheless, from doing my apprenticeship, I know I have gained the experience and knowledge I need to start my career within the marketing industry. Therefore, hopefully in 10 years, I will still be working in marketing and design and I will be happy with my job role and the company I am working for.

I really couldn’t recommend an apprenticeship enough! Over the past six months, I have grown as an individual, my confidence has improved, I have developed my interpersonal skills and have gained insight into the working world. All of these things I believe I wouldn’t have been able to achieve at such an early age without my apprenticeship.

Kiera King is undertaking a level 3 digital marketing qualification with Whitehat and Christie’s. She tells her story as part of the #InspiringApprentices campaign

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