At Planet Sport this week we’ve been marking National Apprenticeship Week by chatting to a couple of our team who have found their way to great careers with us by taking the apprenticeship route. Let’s introduce Sam and Alex.
It all started around the time I was completing my UCAS form and thinking about going to university.
I asked my mates about what they were planning and about 90% were considering university so that seemed the logical step for me too. Then it was a case of identifying what I was passionate about and then looking into related degrees at various unis
As I was doing this it struck me that I would benefit far more from gaining hands-on experience in the workplace and be better placed in 3-4 years with a career underway.
Well, I call it the best of both worlds. Earning money, enhancing my CV, building 100’s of connections as well as a social life whether that be visiting your mates at university, or going out with your new colleagues in London. All quite different to finishing up university with £50k debt to my name and still needing to find a job!
Funnily enough – as I ended up at Google - my first step into researching the apprenticeships I could apply for, was to Google it. I found the Gov.uk website and that quickly became my new best mate as every day I checked their apprenticeship pages for my two main interest categories of ‘Sports Journalism’ and ‘Marketing/Advertising’.
My plan was to apply to larger companies initially, as these opportunities were the most competitive and I thought would look the most impressive on my CV.
The first position that caught my attention was the ‘Sports Journalism’ role at Sky Sports. I immediately applied and successfully made it through two selection rounds before I was rejected at the third stage. The whole process seemed lengthy and frustrating at the time, but it taught me a huge amount when applying with Google.
I applied for Google’s Digital Marketing Apprenticeship and the process took 8 months in total. It overlapped with my A-Level preparation, and I had to make important decisions on my priorities at the time.
It started off with an interview over the phone followed by a full day of face-to-face interviews at Google London. The moment I arrived at the office on the day of my interviews, I knew I had to do everything in my power to get the job, it was that extra bit of motivation, knowing the amazing surroundings I’d be working in every day!
Thankfully, I was successful and had a great time on the apprenticeship scheme there and it stood me in great stead to hit the ground running when I joined Planet Sport.
Well firstly, I’d highly recommend the whole thing! There are three key pieces of advice I’d offer to those who are strongly considering applying for apprenticeships.
Aim high. Apply for the best companies in the industry you want to enter because the worst that can happen is you gain valuable application and interview experience. Then you’ll know how to adapt for the next one and have seen it all before.
Check every day for new apprenticeships. The earlier you apply for a position, the more time you will have to prepare and research, and the best schemes are popular.
You don’t have to be an expert in the role you want: Your apprenticeship is all about learning on the job. As important as it is to know some basic information, the main thing recruiters are looking for is your enthusiasm and willingness to learn plus your belief in the company’s values.
That’s certainly the case. I had already been to university and obtained a master’s degree in Pharmacy. After several years of work and then a career hiatus as a full-time carer to my dying father, I had decided that a change in career was needed.
However, despite having already completed extensive studies in a specialized field, I found that changing careers was difficult. I was too qualified for some positions and without the relevant knowledge and formal skills for others.
Through the help of the Job Centre and support from an advisor from the Richmond Fellowship, a charity that help individuals who may face difficulties with aspects of life, I started to investigate apprenticeships.
The Job Centre offered advice on apprenticeships, apprenticeship schemes, potential recruiters as well as places to find apprenticeships, such as the specific dedicated websites.
The Richmond Fellowship helped me spruce up my CV as well as guide me through the interviews to make sure I did not blurt out something unexpected!
After signing up with an apprenticeship firm, they recommended various apprenticeships in data analysis and in programming for me to put myself forward for and produced a video interview that could be put forward to potential employers with my consent.
That is when Planet Sport came to my attention. They were a company keen on having a diverse mix of employees and they offered me an interview in a local city. The apprenticeship firm briefed me accordingly and we had coffee and a chat about the job. A week later I got the offer and started the apprenticeship in December 2020 with a few weeks to learn a little more about the firm and the company's sector.
I and many others I grew up with have heard of apprenticeships mention in an offhand way by teachers or parents however I wasn’t entirely clear on the details.
Back when I was fresh out of school apprenticeships were not common and certainly had not received the push and government investment that we see now.
Certainly, apprenticeships were not promoted to me as an avenue of career as much as college qualifications and university degrees. This attitude has changed especially in recent years.
What made me specifically investigate apprenticeships is that they are paid learning opportunities. For someone who wants an income while they learn, apprenticeships are a good opportunity.
Apprenticeships are certainly more geared towards young people than to those aged 25+ that may be looking to change careers. It’s worth noting that if you are a decent potential employee and you already have some technical skills already then you may be able to negotiate a good initial salary because you will be more experienced and skilled out of the box.
If I had to give three key pieces of advice it would be these:
You do not need all the skills to start with: Demonstrate the passion, enthusiasm, and broad experience as the apprenticeship itself will give you the skills. Showing you have experience – and it doesn’t have to be work-specific - in different areas of your life and with a variety of situations is beneficial.
Budget for the apprenticeship: If you are straight out of school this may not be an issue but if you are later in life, bear in mind the minimum apprentice wage is not huge.
Reserve time for study: From day one, make sure your employer sets aside time for study weekly and plan out your review cycles. You will also need extra time towards the end of the apprenticeship for exams and coursework. Remember the business is investing in you!
At Planet Sport, we believe in championing talent and our apprentices are a crucial part of our business. They help us entertain and engage our 20m strong sports audience every day.