What is an apprenticeship really like?

For the last year, I have been with Axonn Media doing a Level 3 NVQ apprenticeship in Digital Marketing.

I’ve never really been the best when it comes to exams, and university seemed like the wrong thing for me to do with my life. I was always the kind of person who learnt more when doing something, not reading it.

In my year at Axonn Media, I’ve learnt more than I could have ever learned from a university course, things that no textbook can ever tell you, like communication skills, how much a change in the business climate can affect a company, collaboration and the execution of campaigns. If I hadn’t spent my year here, I probably would have only known about these in theory.

From the first week of my apprenticeship, I kept a journal which I updated over the course of the year, so that I could look back and see how much I’ve learned and improved.

“Scary and exciting at the same time…”

My first few weeks at Axonn Media were scary and exciting at the same time. Everything was new to me, and my confidence in my abilities wasn’t particularly great. I found the creative tasks easier, but when it came to writing and understanding new things, I struggled a lot more. Looking back at those first few weeks, I set myself very low expectations. But I suppose without starting off small I wouldn’t be where I am today. A lot of the time I was setting myself goals like “learn some jargon” or “read an article” and I suppose the best way to do an apprenticeship would be to jump in the deep end and set your goals higher.

Over the year, I have grown very proud of my work with Slideshare. It’s become my specialty of sorts and I really do love making them. I suggest when you find something you enjoy doing, use it to try to better your work in other ways. For example a Slideshare can also be turned into a blog post or used on social media. There are many ways to use a good piece of content!

Despite the many benefits, there are of course some disadvantages. In my year at Axonn, I have struggled quite a bit with the difficulty of some of my tasks. Of course this is to be expected as a complete stranger to the industry, having never even heard of inbound or the multitude of things connected to it. But as I’ve learned more, things started going more smoothly. I started to gain more responsibility and understood that I was capable of doing the tasks I was set, it just took some time.

I feel like the apprenticeship with Axonn helped me figure out my learning habits. For example, a big part of understanding inbound is to understand the jargon. It took me a long time to understand the jargon I needed to learn, and we tried many different methods. However, over time and by trying new ways of learning it, I finally conquered it.

“Constant support from everyone…”

Axonn has been great to work for too, because I had constant support from everyone. Whether they were in my department or not, everyone was always happy to help or share their insight with me. I think the best thing about working at Axonn was it wasn’t what I expected from a working environment.

Before starting, I had this idea that CEOs and bosses were scary people like those you see on TV, but it turns out they’re just smarter versions of everyone else. Axonn’s CEO Fergus is really nice to work alongside – not at all scary and sometimes a little bit funny.

I think my most challenging task was helping create the 140 Twitter influencers list. I spent a long time sorting through lists of people, compiling the proper data and designing a Slideshare for it. It seemed so easy at first, but you should always remember that good things take time, and if you want to make some great content, you need to be patient with it.

Sometimes the simplest of tasks were the hardest, for example when I was cutting down a huge list of viral campaigns for a post, there was just so many to choose from and it was a matter of picking the right content to talk about.

Most of my friends are at university, so it became difficult to relate with them – they were stressing out about essays whereas my troubles were with deadlines for content and understanding personas. I felt detached from them in a way, but I also realised there are big differences between our work.

Is an apprenticeship for you?

I enjoyed working for Axonn and learning everything I could from the company. I think if you’re not sure about what to do with your life after leaving college, then an apprenticeship could be for you. Not only are you gaining the experience most employers want you to have, but you are limiting the pressure you get from exams and instead learning on the job. It has been the perfect choice for me.

My advice for anyone looking into an apprenticeship would be to not just accept the first thing that comes along – you want to be able to relate to the company’s values and goals. I’d also suggest going head-first into learning as much as you can about your role, asking questions all the time and finding new things to read or watch. It really does help to get a good level of understanding early on in your apprenticeship.

As for what is next for me, I’m currently interviewing for various executive positions where I hope to bring what I’ve learnt to a new company. My time at Axonn has been great, and I will miss my co-workers, but now it’s time to move on and try something new.

 

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