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From McDonald's to media career... my apprenticeship journey so far

When I left school at 16 with 10 GCSEs, I got myself a full-time job at McDonalds. I earned myself a decent wage, and, over three and a half years, my on-the-job experience has seen me develop considerably on a personal level.

I have experience of working in a fast-paced environment, whether producing fresh food or providing customer service skills, but I always wanted something more.

One of my strongest and most enjoyable subjects at school was IT. My dad works in the IT industry and I have grown up around the latest technology where it is the ‘done thing’ for teenagers to carry pocket computers. In fact, the majority of people in the developed world own several computers in the form of laptops, tablets and mobiles.

While I’d always been aware of apprenticeships, I never really thought they would be suitable for me.

But that all changed 18 months ago, when I went to an apprenticeship day at a local college to learn more about IT apprenticeships. The day really opened my eyes to the idea of ‘earning while you’re learning’ which was an idea that excited me – a chance to get a recognised qualification while getting valuable on-the-job experience in the IT industry.

These apprenticeships are heavily subscribed and intensely competitive, but after a year and a half of trying to find the right apprenticeship for me, I discovered The Juice Academy!

When I saw the Academy’s advert on the National Apprenticeship Service website, it appealed instantly, providing the opportunity to earn while you learn, but in social media.

I, like most people in the world now, am addicted to social media, constantly browsing through newsfeeds and timelines or just generally communicating, so this sounded like just the thing for me.

The application form was interesting in itself (how many job application forms ask you to describe yourself in a tweet?) but I made it through to the bootcamp selection day, where we all got the chance to impress our potential employers.

I was matched with The JRW Group, a niche sports insurance company with services ranging from providing personal golfers’ insurance to personal trainers getting insured to teach classes.

My role so far, in my first two weeks as the company’s social media executive, has been to get to know the company’s brands inside and out, and to complete a competitor analysis audit, basically seeing what works and what doesn’t when trying to engage customers to talk, in and around our brands.

Having been given a desk next to another ‘Matt’, my settling in period has been made much easier by the introduction of our office nicknames – either ‘Matt 1’ and ‘Matt 2’ or ‘Vimto Matt’ and ‘Cappuccino Matt’. I’ve never drunk hot drinks, so walking into an office with a high tech coffee maker and 30 employees regularly queuing up to get what has been described as ‘heaven in a cup’ is a little strange. But I’m more than happy to use the water cooler to top up my Vimto!

I am very grateful for everything The Juice Academy has done for me over the last two months. The opportunity I’ve been given – to earn while I gain a valuable qualification in a rapidly developing area like social media – is amazing.

I am really enjoying my new role and I can’t wait to see where my apprenticeship takes me.

By Matt Knowles

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