'Why I quit my degree to become an apprentice'

National Apprenticeship Week: #InspiringApprentice Roshan Gujra left university after one month - and hasn't looked back

National Apprenticeship Week: I quit university to become an apprentice - and haven't looked back, says Roshan Gujra

My name is Roshan Gujra and I’m currently on the 15-month digital marketer apprenticeship with IPG Mediabrands.

Like most A-level students unsure of what they’d like to do when they "grow up", I decided to pursue a university education after having minimal exposure to other options. I also watched my three sisters go to university, so I chose to follow in their footsteps and study computer science. However, after one month in my programme, I realised it wasn’t quite right for me. I wanted to qualify as a marketing professional before entering my 20s… and I quickly learned this was not possible in a university setting.

News: Most parents think apprentices are 'left making tea'

More: Why government is getting apprenticeship policy wrong

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Apprenticeships: Researching my options

Shortly thereafter I had an eye-opening conversation with a friend, who spoke very highly of their experience as an apprentice. So I decided to research my options. While we were briefly introduced to apprenticeships in the sixth form, it seemed like a route for those interested in trades or manual labour like plumbing, but not for creative industries. After learning more about apprenticeships, it seemed too good to be true.

There are programmes available in nearly every industry, so when I stumbled upon the digital marketer apprenticeship with Creative Pioneers at IPG Mediabrands, I was keen to get involved.

Soon after beginning my apprenticeship at IPG Mediabrands, I was confident I had made the right decision. I was really surprised about how much autonomy we were given in the workplace; it exceeded my expectations. I assumed my contributions to the team would be small, but I was certainly wrong.

Although my parents were quite apprehensive about apprenticeships, they changed their narrative when I started showcasing the work I was doing. Particularly my mother, who is a school teacher herself.

I’ve quickly been able to diversify my skillset and build on my technical knowledge so that when I graduate, I will have the tools to specialise in digital marketing after having gained significant exposure in the field, working with some of the world’s largest brands.

Diverse learning environment

What I’ve enjoyed most about my apprenticeship is the diverse learning environment at IPG – no two days are ever the same. The job is dynamic and my tasks vary depending on the day or the brand. I’m often working on 12 brands at a time, so needless to say there has been a huge opportunity for growth and development. I also feel respected by my peers. My ideas are heard, and I’ve never felt undermined in the workplace, despite being one of the youngest people in the company. And whilst earning a wage is a bonus, that isn’t the reason I’ve chosen this path.

When my apprenticeship ends in April of this year, I’m hoping to continue my career at IPG Mediabrands full time as a digital marketing executive. It’s nice to not worry about finding a job after this apprenticeship ends or having to pay off student loans, and it’s also neat that I’ll have a career established before my 20th birthday – quite unlike my peers and friends in university. 

I’d encourage everyone to explore the option of an apprenticeship, particularly if you aren’t certain about what you’d like to do. Hopefully, schools will start making apprenticeships more familiar to students, too. 

Roshan Gujra is on the 15-month digital marketer apprenticeship with IPG Mediabrands. He tells his story as part of the Tes #InspiringApprentices campaign

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