Hi, my name is Catriona Cook and I’m a Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice.
That sounds like a confession, but it’s not. It’s a sentence I proudly tell anyone who’s listening. I joined Ayrshire College as an apprentice in 2016, five whole years after leaving school. Of course I didn’t just sit around and twiddle my thumbs during that time. I worked and volunteered abroad, visiting Spain, Thailand and Australia and also worked in odd jobs when back home in Scotland. I guess during that time I floated about, not really too sure of ‘what I want to do when I grew up’.
After getting a little bored of being away from home and living in hostels – the time arrived. I had grown up… but I still had no idea of what I wanted to do. It was actually my mum that suggested I should do an apprenticeship. I didn’t quite understand why she was suggesting this – surely my own mum should know that I didn’t want to be a welder, or plumber, or bricklayer. But little did I know; that isn’t what an apprenticeship has to be these days. At the time, I didn’t realise the endless list of opportunities available to me. There are so many apprenticeships in various different industries. Turns out, I just had a very old-fashioned idea of what an apprenticeship actually is.
Ok, so what actually is a Modern Apprenticeship I hear you ask? Well, before I started my apprenticeship with Ayrshire College, I was asking the same thing. Skills Development Scotland say; “The Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme provides individuals with the opportunity to secure industry-recognised qualifications while earning a wage. It offers people aged 16 and over the opportunity of paid employment, combined with training at different levels.”
To put it simply, I am working in the role of a Digital Marketer, while working towards a recognised qualification in that exact field and getting paid to do so. For me, this was the best of both worlds: working, being paid and learning all at the same time.
I did relatively well in my exams at school but honestly, I just never felt like the classroom setting was right for me. Being full time at College or University did not appeal to me at all – I would never knock them as an option, both my brothers went to uni and absolutely loved their time there but I believe everyone learns in different ways, and I know I wouldn’t have reached my full potential going down the full time College/University route. That’s the beauty of an apprenticeship; I am a College student but am still working full time! I have worked since I was thirteen, so I am used to being paid a wage – this was another main attraction to an apprenticeship; I would earn while I learn.
My apprenticeship lasts for two years and it is now scarily close to finishing. In the last year and a half I have learned so much and had so many great experiences. Digital marketing is a growing industry, so I feel really lucky to have been selected for this role and I’ve learned so much in a short space of time. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in so much more than I’d ever imagined I’d get the chance to. I’ve built websites, ran campaigns across social networks and built up the College’s Instagram following. I’ve represented the College at job fairs, took part in the Scottish International Airshow and flew to Birmingham for a youth conference. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at school events and created an online community for female STEM students at the College to help towards tackling the gender imbalance in their field. I’ve also worked at huge Graduation ceremonies and Fresher’s fayres and had the pleasure of attending awards nights. I’ve led social media training for staff in the College, written blogs and presented to students in their classes. I’ve organised trips for students to local work places, co-ordinated photo shoots and worked with the Ayrshire College Foundation to increase their online presence. I’ve led tours of the College, helped brand the new training restaurant in the Ayr Campus and so, so much more! It’s been a very busy year, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The best part of my apprenticeship has been going from someone who was floating from job to job with no real direction to being super focused and confident in what I want to do in the future. It’s made me feel like I am really good at something, and it’s a great thing to be able to truthfully say that you love your job.
Away back at interview stage for my apprenticeship, I thought I wouldn’t be selected for the role as I didn’t have any experience in digital marketing but that’s exactly what an apprenticeship is for. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned on the job in the last year and a half. My advice to anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship would be to go for it. You learn so much, you get paid and you get a qualification at the end of it. I’ve had a really positive experience and I would love other young people to get to do some of the things I’ve had the chance to do.
I am a Digital Marketing Apprentice – do you wish you were too?