National Apprenticeship Week was created with the intention of celebrating the next generation of young people who don’t ‘fit the mould’ of the traditional University pathway. In my opinion, having a week for apprentices, employers, and training providers to celebrate the value of apprenticeships is vital to the success of the various schemes out there.
Let me introduce myself properly, my name is Alex, and I am Champion’s first Public Relations Apprentice. I grew up in the South West of England. I worked hard in school and performed well in my GCSEs. After my exams, I developed a five-year plan of what I wanted to achieve. However, four months into my A-Levels, I wasn’t enjoying the classroom environment. So, I decided to look for an alternative.
When apprenticeships were spoken about at my school, there was always an undertone that they were for the people who weren’t as gifted academically. Oh, how wrong they were. In my initial search, I looked for the different courses available to me and found a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Business Administration. I was accepted and started working for a local charity. It opened my eyes to the world of work and allowed me to expand my professional experience beyond what I would have achieved within a classroom.
Working with the charity was incredible, but after 14 months and completing my assessment, my contract ended. That’s when I started exploring my options for the future and looking into more apprenticeships.
Then COVID-19 hit. I was unemployed for five months, but in September I found the apprenticeship opening at Champion. The passion that Champion has for its clients is what drew me to them. Also, the fact that they were hiring for an apprentice showed me that they were willing to nurture and support a young person starting out in PR.
The concept of starting a new job, in a completely new city, in a sector I had no prior experience or knowledge in, in the middle of a global pandemic did not cross my mind until after I had accepted the offer. However, after my first week, I felt like I had been with Champion for months. This is a testament to the strength of the team at Champion. Five months into my job and am yet to meet any of the team in person, but that hasn’t affected me feeling like a fully-fledged member. The team continues to support me as I grow into my role. Our strapline is ‘We Champion. You Grow.,’ but I can tell you that isn’t just about the clients we work with, it is also a philosophy that exists throughout the core of the team.
In my first call with the PRCA they said Champion would throw me in at the deep end to give me the best, most in-depth experience possible. Luckily, I am a good swimmer. I have accomplished so much since I first started my apprenticeship. So far, I have learned social media content creation and management, news monitoring, industry researching skills, how to pitch to journalists, content creation and secured earned media opportunities for clients.
Alongside my work with Champion, I am completing a Level 4 Apprenticeship in PR and Communications. It is equivalent to a foundational degree in PR and is ran by the PRCA. Due to the pandemic, I met my mentor online, and have been completing webinars and assignments through OneFile, an online portfolio system. At the beginning, it was tough to adjust to the amount of work, and the detail required to meet the criteria. However, through the support of Champion, the PRCA and my mentor I feel well supported to continue achieving my objectives on my apprenticeship journey.
I truly don’t understand why apprenticeships are not more popular. For me, the idea of working for a company like Champion as an apprenticeship is an easy decision. I can learn from the best while completing practical work, study and grow my knowledge and skill set for that work whilst earning a wage. Having a job that I thoroughly enjoy not only increases my productivity at work, but also allows my study time to be more fulfilling.
I would say to anybody contemplating starting or joining an apprenticeship – do it. I cannot recommend it enough.