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With A level results day just around the corner, crunch time is slowly approaching. There is an important decision to make which could have long-term implications. Therefore, it is vital that you’re fully informed of the options available to you and the career benefits each route can offer.
This article draws on insights from this year’s Student Living Index as well as some personal experiences, having chosen to leave the University of Leeds in search of a more practical route into the digital marketing industry. I am currently completing my digital marketing apprenticeship at Publicis Media, working for the agency Zenith.
I will explore some of the common myths associated with the apprenticeship route and some of the significant benefits an apprenticeship can offer, particularly a WhiteHat apprenticeship.
Currently, the vast majority of university students are graduating without any course-related work experience under their belt. On average, UK students spend just 6.6 hours each month in placements or internships which is having a significant impact on their employability prospects.
An apprenticeship, by definition, enables you to learn and get hands-on work experience. Both at the same time!
WhiteHat recognise that university is the path that most people choose and that it is the right option in many cases. However, they’re on a mission to create a truly outstanding alternative to university for those keen to start their career sooner and learn on the job whilst getting paid.
One of WhiteHat’s core strengths is the calibre of roles they offer at some of the biggest and most prestigious companies in the world including the likes of Publicis, Warner Bros and Facebook. They have even made waves into the heart of government, recently offering a placement at the Houses of Parliament!
It's not luck, however, which has seen the apprenticeship provider grow so rapidly…
The WhiteHat recruitment process is designed to really get to know each individual applicant and ensure they're matched with the right apprenticeship, role and employer so that when they start in their new position, they’ll be confident that they’re in the right place to grow.
Once settled in their role, WhiteHat provides even more opportunities for apprentices to expand their professional development and their experiences of the working world. As part of the WhiteHat community, you get access to best in class (and free!) training, delivered by industry experts (Google regularly deliver training sessions), or by the WhiteHat team and other apprentices (on everything from coding to creating influencer marketing campaigns to how to use Adobe Spark).
The 'Apprentices on Tour' scheme also offers all WhiteHat apprentices the chance to visit the offices of other apprentices on programme, including places like Google and California-based CRM firm, Salesforce, which gives a great insight into other employers out there.
Currently, students at universities in the UK are spending an average of 28.2 hours socialising each month and can expect to spend an average of £44.20 each month on social activities.
There’s a common misconception that if you choose to do an apprenticeship you won’t access the same social experiences as you would do at university. WhiteHat is proving that is definitely not the case…
A large community of capable and motivated young professionals has been built up over years. There are many programmes created for apprentices to meet each other, either in social environments or in a more professional capacity such as networking events. All social events are created based on what the apprentices themselves have said they want.
The WhiteHat community offering includes a successful mentoring scheme and several leadership programmes; the leadership roles include the 'Hacktivist' and 'Influencer' ambassadorial roles, they work to promote the higher apprenticeship message in schools and communities.
Further to the leadership programmes, the WhiteHat community has built a selection of bespoke societies & groups to rival those on offer at university. These societies and clubs are organised and delivered exclusively by apprentices for apprentices. Some examples include the WhiteHat BAME Network, the Coding Club and there has been a 5-a-side football team! If you don't find something that meets your interests, you’re encouraged and supported to start your own WhiteHat society.
WhiteHat themselves also put on amazing social events. I recently enjoyed a fantastic evening with fellow apprentices at Flight Club, a trendy bar in Victoria. It was great to be around so many-like-minded people and to enjoy the food and drinks (all paid for by WhiteHat!)
Financial value is of huge importance when assessing your options post A-levels, now more than ever. That is why it is important to refer to the fact that 40% of university graduates now feel extremely concerned by their financial situation. Added to this, as many as 43% of all UK students claim to have regularly run out of money before the end of a semester.
Perhaps the most common misconception surrounding apprenticeships is that they are likely to earn below minimum wage. In my experience, this simply is not true.
WhiteHat only work with employers with ethical employment practices, which includes paying apprentices a minimum salary. The salary varies between apprenticeships but go up to £24K.
Interestingly, subject choice was the biggest motivator in choosing which university to attend (48% of students). If, eventually, you want to become a software engineer or work in digital marketing, why not dodge the student debt and learn transferable vocational skills, whilst earning a good salary and not getting into any debt?? All while having access to the social and professional programmes pioneered by WhiteHat, all at no cost to the apprentices themselves!
So if you, or someone you know, is exploring their options post-school or college, perhaps an apprenticeship with WhiteHat is a route to consider...