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National Apprenticeship Week 2019 – Family Action’s Apprentice

07 March 2019

Digital Marketing Apprentice, Beth gives an insight into her time at Family Action and what it’s like to be an apprentice after joining the organisation in October 2018, as well as her top apprentice tips.

So it’s National Apprenticeship Week, something that has never really meant anything to me until this year but how did I get here and what am I doing?

There’s always been a stigma about apprenticeships and the view that apprentices sit around making tea/coffee or doing the printing for their boss but, that’s sure not the case here at Family Action. I am fortunate enough to have an opportunity that truly couldn’t be turned down. Being able to work alongside a brilliant team on a variety of great projects – the Family Monsters Project, in particular – has given me an insight into the digital marketing industry and charity sector, like no other.

Joining the team at such an innovative time has given me the opportunity to contribute bounds of ideas and help to give a young person’s perspective on the work that we are doing – which my team and the organisation really value. It’s been fantastic so far being able to learn so many different skills and put them in to practice in a variety of ways – with lots of thanks to my team for teaching me. A surprisingly small group, who really know their stuff, have welcomed me in, encouraged my thoughts, feedback and have taught me well – so far.

Additionally, being able to work across the organisation’s different departments and sectors, offers an experience like no other. Including visiting different agencies we work with, collaborating with different departments (from fundraising to volunteering) and most importantly getting to work with some of Family Action’s service users and supporters – to really understand the purpose and result of the work Family Action does. So that in my role, as part of Family Action’s digital voice, I can really understand our audience and represent the voices of our services alongside my team. 

What the most crazy part is, I almost never met my now team members, that hired me. My apprenticeship company, LDN Apprentices, had an over booked session as due to unforeseen circumstances in which some employers dropped out so, they had to reduce attendance accordingly. Therefore, the evening before I was due to go to my ‘career kickstarter’ they called and asked me if it would be possible to rearrange. My response to this was a bit of a disheartened explanation, about how I’d struggled to arrange cover for my shift that day and that my colleague was doing me a massive favour, so I could attend. Fortunately, LDN managed to make space for me after I asked if it would be possible to still go. So, thankfully, the next day I met Matt and Caroline, my now team members and managers here at Family Action.  

A big part of why Family Action recruited an apprentice, is because of the Family Monsters Project – but what is it? Well if you don’t already know the Family Monsters Project is Family Action’s, year long, 150th anniversary campaign. Geared up to raise awareness and support families in opening up and talking about their family pressures – family monsters. Because, for 150 years Family Action’s work has supported the whole family and helped manage family pressures. From financial stresses, to childcare stresses and more. Family Action has a wide range of different services to support individuals and the whole family unit too. Some of the services that I find particularly inspirational are the Young Carer services, the Christmas Toy Appeal and the Friendship Works or Perinatal befrienders schemes. What really differentiates Family Action from other children’s charities is that they aren’t just a children’s charity, they support all of the family unit. Sometimes supporting only the children means potentially returning them to the very same environment readying them to need support again. Which is exactly what Family Action want to try to avoid via the wholesome family approach. 

“depending on what you want to do maybe, an apprenticeship is the right option for you”

The importance of the Family Monsters Project is that everyone and anyone, from every and any family can relate. We all go through family stresses or face family pressures but we don’t all talk about them. Instead a lot of us leave these unspoken struggles to grow and become unmanageable monsters – I myself can vouch for that. But this project is taking action! We want to break down the taboos and the stigmas that encourage people to store our family secrets and stress away. We want to get people to talk about them by starting the conversation. As for a lot of us admitting there is an issue is the first step to tackling it or making it more manageable. Admitting we need some help, support or just someone to talk to, whether it’s another family member or trained professional – it’s ok to ask for help.

Therefore, Family Action’s, Family Monsters Project has three main aims: we want people to join the conversation and get talking; to reach out and get support if they need it and to get involved to spread the word so, it can help others too. Because we all have a family (however we define them) and we all have family monsters. But, we don’t all talk or get along with our families and a lot of the problems we avoid talking about are much more common than you think. If you start talking to your friends and family you’ll probably find that out too. As an apprentice I am proud to be working on a project that not only provides such great opportunities for me to learn and enhance my career but, also that has a great cause to.

From my experience being apprentice isn’t just the easy route (as some people may see it) but, it is the right route for my career. So depending on what you want to do maybe, an apprenticeship is the right option for you and your career – not every job needs a uni degree don’t you know? Some careers need experience more and that’s where apprenticeships prevail. Unfortunately, many people feel pushed in to university for various reasons and from my experience the education system mostly gears students up to go to university, with little support readily available for the other options.

But, if you are a young person or you know a young person who isn’t sure what they want to do or isn’t set on the traditional uni approach, you will find your way and you can do it. Just use your initiative, be determined and start by focusing on where you want to be or what your passions are. From there you can find out, with some research, what job role would utilize these skills/passions and find a job that’s right for you. I’d also recommend watching YouTube videos or reading articles/blogs around the job role and what it’s like to be in that field to see if it’s a viable option for you. This is especially helpful if you can’t get any work experience or insight. You can also find out what skills or training you can gain to give you an advantage or helping hand at an interview but, that is also helpful to the role.

I’d say try to look at plenty of options too. I remember thinking about several career paths from being a solicitor, to a surveyor, to a police detective and even an RSPCA agent of some form but, now here I am completely different from all of those as a Digital Marketing Apprentice. All because my passion is music and video editing which can come in pretty handy for this role at times – hopefully in the future I’ll even be able to specialise in content creation. But at the moment my focus is on understanding the industry and learning how content creation fits in to the whole dynamic and how to best use content. Otherwise, I may end up specialising in wasting time creating unengageing or unuseful content and no one wants that. 

After you know where you want to go then you can start by researching what the best route to your goal is. Followed by what’s on offer to you whether, that’s open uni, college courses, an apprenticeship or something different altogether. Then apply to as many roles/opportunities you can see yourself in and prepare for any interviews. Some good preparation ideas prior to an interview are build up a portfolio, research the company – if like my role, social media and online resources are a key part of the job, make sure you know some references off of the top of your head relating to this. (Check out their LinkedIn page, if they have one or sign yourself up – it’s a bit like Facebook for businesses, corporates and professionals.) Also, remember to stay calm, demonstrate your interest, (maybe by asking questions or pointing out a recent project of theirs, you liked), show your initiative and be driven. This can be applied to many interviews but, if you’re going to be an apprentice a lot of places aren’t looking for you to already be a professional – so don’t stress or over sell yourself. A lot of places are simply looking for someone who’s willing to put the effort in, who can contribute good ideas, who is open to feedback, takes initiative, isn’t too shy to get things done but isn’t a know it all and is ready to learn. So be determined, interested, energetic, alert and ambitious. You can achieve and with a bit of initiative, determination and  perseverance I’m sure you will.

Find out more about our Family Monsters Project and how you can join the conversation, get involved or get support. You can share your family’s story, tips or monster related moments on social media by using #MyFamilyMonsters to let other families know they’re not alone. Watch our family monsters film here and share it with others to start the conversation.