Words: Charlotte Jones
My career in out-of-home (OOH) is one that started completely by chance. At 19 years old, when I enrolled in a marketing apprenticeship, I was unknowingly opening a door into an industry that I’d never heard of before… Fast forward to 2020, I’m now 21 years old and working at the biggest independent OOH specialist in the country. Pretty good for a girl without a degree, right?
Before my apprenticeship, I was dividing my time between a chippy and a coffee shop. This wasn’t my desired career path as you could imagine, but after deciding university wasn’t the right fit for me, I needed a steady income whilst I decided on my next move.
Although I’d always dreamed of being a forensic scientist, the nightmare of crippling student debt and exams made me feel uneasy. Which is definitely why I gravitated towards the idea of an apprenticeship – a way to earn whilst I learn. However, I can’t help but remember feeling extremely underwhelmed when it came to the apprenticeships available in my local area. Dental nurse, hairdresser, electrician, although very important jobs in our society, were not what I wanted to do.
It was through a lot of googling that I found a London-based startup called Whitehat, an apprenticeship provider for some of the UK’s most exciting companies. Unlike the apprenticeships available in my local area, there were opportunities being offered at companies such as Google, Facebook and JustEat. It was through WhiteHat that I was paired with Grand Visual, a production company for digital OOH, and where my journey began as a digital marketing apprentice in a course taking 18 months to complete.
The course consisted of intensive 1-to-1 teaching sessions with my Whitehat coach, lots of hands-on experience and a final project showcasing the skills I’ve learned. Personal highlights for me include attending awards ceremonies, using my skills as a natural storyteller to write content for Grand Visual’s website and being welcomed into and becoming part of an award-winning team.
Despite some personal hardships, my apprenticeship was the experience of a lifetime and I completed it with a distinction grade and something even more valuable, experience. It was through my apprenticeship that a door into the media industry was opened to me… Had I done my apprenticeship elsewhere, I probably wouldn’t be on the career path I am now.
Experiencing the industry in the hands-on way that I have has given me a deeper understanding and passion for it. Every day I am learning new skills, whether it’s job-related or learning to collaborate effectively within a huge team.
This is why I think that as an industry we should consider apprenticeships more as a viable way to attract people into OOH. From my experience meeting others also completing apprenticeships, apprentices are some of the most motivated and inspired individuals that I know. As an industry dedicated to creativity, we know that one size doesn’t fit all. Which is why we should be embracing apprenticeships as a way to increase diversity and attract a wider pool of talent into the workforce.