Journey of an apprentice – Chloe Kerfoot – National Apprenticeship Week

By February 10, 2021 Stories

Considering your next steps after leaving high school, college, or even university can be daunting, even more so with the current challenges posed by the global pandemic.

Although I knew I always wanted to go down the apprenticeship route, taking those steps while there was so much uncertainty was a little overwhelming. So in this blog, I wanted to share my advice for getting started when it comes to looking for an apprenticeship, and what my digital marketing apprenticeship entails.

In the beginning

I started early in terms of navigating what my future might look like and knowing what subjects and work experience would help point me in the right direction.

I enjoy having opportunities to be creative, apparently it runs in the genes, so considering a career that would allow the use of this strength seemed the logical way to go.

As a result, I opted to undertake GCSE subjects that were based on what was interesting and what I enjoyed learning. Thanks to my dad, who has a creative background, he helped me to identify the subjects that might come in useful when it came to the career route I wanted to take so alongside the core subjects, I chose to do Graphics, Media Studies, Business and Art.

Venturing out for work experience

Having set my sights on a career in the creative industries, it was time to start looking for work experience opportunities. During the formal work experience week I spent time with my now employer, KC Communications, to learn more about public relations, marketing and social media.

The week consisted of being introduced to content scheduling platforms, the marketing side of social media and content creation and I even wrote a blog about my work experience placement which you can read here.

Having got a taste for the marketing industry, I sought out another placement during the school holidays with another agency called Fishtank who specialise more in web development and digital marketing, providing me with the opportunity to experience all aspects of the marketing mix.

While it’s challenging right now to be able to obtain work experience opportunities, if you can I highly recommend trying to undertake one as not only does it help you to understand whether or not it is a career you can see yourself doing, it’s also vital to show initiative and your hunger to learn. Benefiting your understanding of the workplace and what to expect for your future helps provide a useful insight of what’s in store.

While I could have made the decision to go direct into an apprenticeship having left school, I decided in the first instance I wanted to enhance my academic skills in particular in English Language, Media Studies and Business and Enterprise which I chose to study at Huddersfield New College before taking those steps into an apprenticeship.

Starting a career in a pandemic

The year 2020. Who would’ve thought it? To be told in March that we would be having a “two-week break from college” while in the midst of studying for end of year exams, only for it to turn into what felt like a never-ending lockdown and the cancellation of my exams.

It was around this time that I spotted the opportunity to join KC Communications as a Digital Marketing Apprentice. Was this luck or fate? A chance to work at the company I’d done my work experience at as a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

After successfully navigating two tricky interviews it was an amazing feeling to get the job and become a full-time member of the KC Communications team. It seems like luck and hard work had both played their part.

The first few months

I started my apprenticeship without even having my exam results confirmed, eager to kickstart my career and take advantage of being in the office before any further lockdowns!

Having those first couple of months face to face allowed for a detailed induction and the opportunity to speak up whenever I needed clarification. I also got the opportunity to take part in client brainstorming sessions, created both written and visual content for social media, uploaded blogs and even started to develop my search engine optimisation (SEO) skills.

Now working from home for the second time, it’s safe to say the dream of getting a lie-in (and not having to get the bus) and working in my fluffy dressing gown is not quite the luxury it’s made out to be!

What my job entails

Let’s just say I’m not just the tea masher (or coffee maker), although I regularly offer to get a round in (believe me that is a big deal when it comes to working with others)!

Instead, I play a vital role in supporting the whole team. My workload planner is always full of something to be getting on with, I’m never twiddling my fingers asking for more work, more like scratching my head on how to solve the next little problem!

The team is very involved and give me the opportunities to get stuck in on big tasks as well as all the little jobs. An average day consists of scheduling social media or creating content along with graphics and simple animations, incorporating research such as additional hashtags or awareness days, jumping on news relevant to clients for sharing.

When press releases come through for one of our clients, my job is to action this and get the content on the websites, inputting SEO, metadata, meta descriptions, keywords and links making sure pages are found and optimised for rankings and much more! The tasks are endless, you don’t realise just how many different aspects there are to learn in digital marketing.

There couldn’t be anywhere more ideal for me to work than KC Communications, who last year won the Yorkshire and Humber SME Employer category with the National Apprenticeship Awards.

Everything I’ve experienced so far into my apprenticeship has been hands-on, with full-on support, help and guidance from an experienced management team I trust.

What might the future hold?

Since starting my apprenticeship every day is full-on, different and productive. I’m learning new things and getting involved in new projects on a daily basis, that’s what I love about agency life.

Looking ahead and approaching the end of my 13-month apprenticeship (September 2021), I hope to have a fully reflective portfolio showcasing my digital marketer potential aiming for a distinction or an even better grade, distinction star!

Next and all being well, a full-time job with team KC – possibly enhancing my learning further by undertaking a degree-level apprenticeship.

At just 19 years old, it’s safe to say that after a challenging year for all of us, here’s one local girl that’s accomplished so far what her 15-year-old self dreamed of.

To help you with your apprenticeship journey, here are some of my top tips for standing out.

  • Where you can, get work experience in your chosen field. If this isn’t possible, look for free online courses.
  • Make your CV stand out. Don’t just rely on a plain word-based CV. If you’re creative, think about how you can get that across in your CV and make sure to highlight any key skills that relate to the role you’re applying for.
  • Covering letter. Most CV’s don’t even get looked at if the accompanying covering letter doesn’t pack a punch. Consider why you want the role and what you can bring to that business. If it sounds like anyone could have written it, start again! 
  • Prepare for the interviews.
    • You will get asked all sorts of questions so make sure you have done your background research, in particular having a read of the company’s website!
    • Do a practice run beforehand or allow yourself plenty of time so you’re not late for an interview.
    • If you are doing an interview online then test and familiarise yourself beforehand with the programs required and make sure you have a reliable internet connection you can.
    • Whether you’re online or offline make sure you look the part!

Earn while you learn

There is now more awareness as to the wide variety of apprenticeships available than ever before, and the type of qualification you can achieve. 

While I had the option to carry on my academic studies at University, this didn’t appeal to me for a number of reasons, one of them being getting into debt.

For me, the opportunity to start my career early and gain a qualification while being paid was a no brainer!

If you’d like to read more tips on preparing for an apprenticeship, why not read what KC Communications founder and former apprentice, Katrina Cliffe has to say.