Inside the life of a Digital Marketing Apprentice

Inside the life of a Digital Marketing Apprentice

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It’s National Apprentice Week! Today we thought we’d share an interview with former apprentice Samantha Bland, who’s been working at Cubed for two years. Since completing her 18-month apprenticeship, Samantha has worked full-time at Cubed as a Paid Media Executive. We sat down to ask her for all the details about her apprenticeship, why she chose to do it and how it helped her kickstart her career in marketing. 

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship? 

My previous workplace went into liquidation so I had to think about my next steps as I would be going back into unemployment, which I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to go back to receiving rejection letters in the gaming industry which is the industry I had hoped to get into. Life throws a lot of lessons at you and this one I was tired of, so I had to sit and think about potential jobs and industries around me.

Having completed a small course around digital marketing prior to my previous job, I decided to research digital marketing and see what careers were out there, what transferable skills I had and what skills or potential courses I could take to get recruiter’s or company’s attention. Thankfully, a lot of my skills, even from secondary school, were transferable so I started the long but exciting process of applying to apprenticeships all over, from Sussex to London. 

Digital marketing is such a vast market when it comes to job types, so I applied to a mix of creative and technical roles. I made sure to look into each company to understand their core values and their offerings. 

After completing a degree and an apprenticeship, what pathway do you think was best?

It depends on the person you are, but I think people should be open to doing both if need be. I’m not the first person to have done both but I can say that the apprenticeship has allowed me to expand my knowledge and skills on the job whilst getting paid and gaining a qualification which was a big plus for me. I think it also depends on the industry you want to get into. Some industries require a degree as a minimum whilst others might not, and some industries don’t offer the option to do an apprenticeship. 

What’s wonderful is that there’s also the option to do a degree apprenticeship where you get the best of both worlds, which is an option that people should explore more. 

How did you juggle an apprenticeship and a full time job? 

I’ve balanced working and studying since I was 16 so it’s nothing new to me, however the roles are definitely reversed now! Going from studying full time with working part-time to working a majority of the week with a day of studying. I did find it strange at first but I adjusted quite quickly, especially since it was mostly coursework and exams. There was a challenge with having to build a massive portfolio as I needed to showcase all the work I was doing day-to-day.

Was Digital Marketing what you expected?

I think it was more intense than I expected with how much information you can have to learn because there’s a lot you can do within advertising. After learning about how much information can be used and stored within the digital sphere, I have definitely become more aware of messaging used within ads. It’s made me consider what I consume digitally on the daily as well as what I’m putting out onto the internet. It’s been an enlightening experience to say the least!

What has been the most rewarding part of your apprenticeship? 

Being able to look back and see how far I’ve come. From not knowing what PPC means to recommending platforms based on targeting for media plans and delivering reports to clients. It sounds silly but it’s so rewarding to know that I can look at the work I’ve produced through the portfolio I’ve developed, as well as the work I’m continuously producing, such as my master note document containing links and advice I’ve received from experienced marketers from Cubed and beyond. 

I also received a certification once I finished my course, but that’s just an added extra!

How has your apprenticeship helped your professional development? 

Gaining work experience and working within an office is a really big part of my apprenticeship that aided in my development. When applying for jobs, recruiters always want work experience. When I was being rejected from jobs in the past, this was feedback that I had received. The apprenticeship has allowed me to have a lot of experiences and I’m very thankful that I’ve found a wonderful company with amazing people that were willing to give me a chance.

What do you think are the most important qualities to have as an apprentice? 

Thirst for knowledge and going the extra mile. Knowledge is power, especially in marketing where you need to keep up with trends and what’s resonating with your audience. Going the extra mile goes hand in hand with this as there will be times where you’ll have to use your initiative to improve campaigns and explore potential trends that clients can jump on.

You also need to be ready to try something you’ve never done before. Being able to deal with the uncomfortable feeling that comes with trying something new is another quality you’ll become comfortable with. I’ve put myself forward for building campaigns on platforms I’ve never used before just to become comfortable with them. I’ve also taken an interest in new products on Google such as Demand Gen where I was able to build knowledge that could be shared with the wider team.

What are the key skills you learnt during your time as an apprentice?

Time management was a key skill that I picked up. I had to balance working a 9-5 job, studying for exams and completing coursework for a long time. I also took a lot of recordings of my work process for my apprenticeship whilst completing work. I had to take quick notes of my process and go back later to fill everything out when I had the time, as I still had a job to do! 

Another key skill I developed was note-taking, which doesn’t sound like a skill you’d typically learn, but I had a whole process! Since there were a lot of courses to complete where I had to document everything, Google Docs was a lifesaver as I could view my notes in different places so I was always able to revise for exams with ease no matter if I was at work, home or on the train. Even though I’ve completed my apprenticeship, I still take notes whenever I use a new platform to advertise on, or I’ll make notes about campaign updates that can be used within our end of campaign reports. 

Important lessons learned? 

Always get your work done straight away. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my educational years. If you stay up-to-date, if not ahead of your work, it becomes much easier and a lot less stressful! By keeping on top of my studies, I was able to not stress as much when I had a submission or exam coming up

What advice would you give someone who is considering an apprenticeship?

Research! Do your research into the place of work and your potential career path. Check out Instagram, TikTok and YouTube for people who work within the industry to get a real idea of what you’re going into. ‘Day in the life’ videos helped me a lot to understand what I could be doing. Looking into the workplace is great too to get an idea of who you’ll be working with, the company culture and events they might do. You want to apply to a company that cares about their people and Cubed ticked that box for me. Plus, it’s good to go into the interview with some knowledge about the company! 

Where do you see your future leading at Cubed? 

Having progressed from Digital Apprentice to Paid Media Executive in April ‘23, I’m working towards becoming a Senior Paid Media Executive whilst further expanding my knowledge around marketing in general, like working with our in-house Copywriters to learn about writing copy, as well as the importance between correlating the copy with the landing pages and keywords.

Sam Bland - Education Cubed

SAMANTHA BLAND

PAID MEDIA EXECUTIVE

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