Long gone are the days when university was the only route into the corporate world. Now that businesses are identifying skill gaps within their own workforce, as well as the general labour market, they’re looking to apprenticeships to close those gaps by providing practical, on-the-job learning, creating an entry-level route into the industry. Apprenticeships aren’t just blue-collar either; they’re available across a host of sectors including Law, Finance, PR, Business, Healthcare and more.

As a Public Relations Apprentice studying towards my Level 4 PR qualification with the PRCA, I’m hoping to shed some light on what this all means and why I think the apprenticeship route has deservedly outgrown its stereotype of being a path for the less abled among academia.

Before joining as an apprentice in May 2021, I was working full-time at a local call centre. Going back a little further, I was in my final year at sixth form studying Sociology, Politics, and Philosophy, before it (and my plans for a gap year) was cut dramatically short due to the pandemic.

I now sit within H+K’s Corporate Affairs + Advisory team, working with clients across a range of sectors. Being exposed to the corporate world so early on in my life hasn’t been plain sailing – but I wouldn’t change my experiences at all.

The fast-paced energy of agency life takes no prisoners, which I found out pretty quickly. In terms of my learning and development, I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. I am constantly challenged, having boundaries pushed and being given opportunities to practically apply my theoretical knowledge. I may be an apprentice, but I am not treated as one.

Not only the pace but the culture and community of an agency has been an enormous help. Being around colleagues physically means that I can observe, listen, and take notes on how people work. Hearing someone speak to a journalist on the phone, watching meetings unfold, and seeing how one commands a room are all very tricky to absorb virtually.

As a junior member of the team, I’ve found that a healthy mix of office-based and home working is best for me. Being at home removes some pressure and I’ve found I can work just as effectively while being in the office has been everything I wanted from working in a big city like London. Working full-time while studying for my PRCA qualification can be tough, but I’ve made sure to keep on top of all my tasks at hand and to make copious amounts of to-do lists – game changer.

University was just never for me and, luckily, I realised this very early on. Much to the dismay of my sixth form, I was one of five students who didn’t apply; some went onto apprenticeships and others straight into work. I get a great blend of on-the-job experience with webinars, virtual classrooms, and networking that comes with my course.

What began as a failed gap year to the Philippines has turned into an amazing opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and grow massively in myself and in my confidence.