Lyndon Macarthur shares with us his experience as an apprentice and life afterwards.
To meet the UK government’s target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020, businesses have to adapt their cultures to cater to a younger set of workers. That means embracing a culture that encourages diversity and gives young people opportunities to grow and progress. Over the past 24 months, I have successfully completed an apprenticeship through Arch and now work for one of the largest media agencies in the world.
Why did I decide to do an apprenticeship?
Growing up, I was really interested in media. I studied the subject at GCSE and A-Level and knew I wanted to pursue a career in the industry. I didn’t want to go to university and didn’t see having a degree as the only path to success, especially in the world of advertising and marketing. So, at the end of my first year of A-Levels, I decided to dive straight into work.
It wasn’t an easy choice. Pursuing a degree is always regarded as a safe option. But I’ve always thought that, regardless of which path you choose, you can always find a way of ending up in the same place. That’s how I viewed university; just because I didn’t want to go, didn’t mean that I couldn’t end up where I wanted to be.
After doing some research, I came across Arch, a company which offers apprenticeships in digital marketing. After an initial assessment, I was being put forward for interviews in no time. After about two weeks I landed a job at Blenheim Chalcot’s AVADO Learning.
What was my apprentice experience like?
At AVADO I got the opportunity to work with some inspiring people, work on real business challenges and, ultimately, make a difference. One of the many benefits of the apprenticeship was the ability to learn on the job. While I didn’t always get things right, I was lucky to have a great team of managers who helped me learn from my mistakes and develop.
AVADO delivers digital training to various corporate clients. This helped me gain valuable insights into the kinds of digital challenges facing businesses today. I was also given the chance to sign-up to Squared Online, Google’s digital marketing courses.
From day one you’re on a continuous learning journey. You learn so much, in many different ways. With a strong support network behind me, if I ever had any questions or needed mentoring advice, I knew exactly where to go.
What happened after my apprenticeship?
At the end of my apprenticeship, I was offered a full-time role at AVADO. I accepted this but after six months I wanted to do something different.
Most young people don’t anticipate having to make big life decisions until they’re 21. So the prospect of searching for a job and kick-starting a career was something I struggled with at first. But I knew I needed to work in a company where I could succeed by being me.
Having a career at the end of your apprenticeship is something I think apprentices often forget. You’re so focussed on the ‘now’ that it’s easy to forget that what you’re doing is setting you up for your career.
When I first started job hunting I was nervous that employers would just overlook my CV because I didn’t have a degree. To my surprise, the opposite happened. I started receiving interview offers from lots of different businesses.
One of these businesses was MediaCom. Throughout the recruitment process, it was clear that MediaCom supports diversity. I was impressed and inspired by the company’s “People First, Better Results” mindset, and knew immediately that this was somewhere I wanted to work.
How was my apprenticeship perceived by MediaCom?
It sounds silly, but I assumed that a business like MediaCom wouldn’t give somebody like me the time of day. I assumed that as soon as they noticed I didn’t have a degree, my CV would end up in the bin. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
During my interview, I felt as if the hiring manager saw my apprenticeship qualification as a worthy alternative to a degree. I wasn’t looked down upon and I was reassured that having an apprenticeship instead of a degree wouldn’t stop the company from hiring me.
In fact, MediaCom was the first major media agency to take on apprentices; so far, the company has had 70 join the business. It’s a core part of its recruitment philosophy.
MediaCom’s values ensure that people from all different walks of life have equal opportunities. It’s clear that these values are being respected and implemented in the workplace every day.
Regardless of academic background, gender, race, sexuality or age, everyone here has the same opportunities to develop and progress their careers. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy coming to work every day.
Diversity runs throughout MediaCom, and the agency wants to give all people a chance to ensure it benefits from the best talent – people who can help the can understand its clients’ audiences and create the most inclusive environment.
My advice to a new apprentice just starting their journey? Learn as much as you possibly can, connect and network with as many different people as possible, and think ahead. Think about what it is you want to achieve with your career and what difference you want to make.
Just because you choose not to follow a certain path in life doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, because success is different for everyone.
I am excited to see how the next generation of apprentices contribute to the working world, and hope to see more businesses embracing people from all different walks of life.