The First 6 Months Of My Apprenticeship At Front Page Advantage

As some of you may be aware, my name is Lauren and I joined the Front Page Advantage (FPA) team on a digital marketing apprenticeship in late September 2020. Six months have passed since then and I’m in disbelief at how fast the time has gone. Though I didn’t have the typical onboarding and training experience, due to the pandemic, I managed to find workarounds to cope with the struggles of lockdown and working from home. I’ve written this blog to share my experiences at FPA so far and the participation in remote college classes.

Why I Wanted to Work in the Digital Marketing Industry

I first decided I wanted to work in the digital marketing industry when I was in college, but was adamant I didn’t want to go to university. I got my first glimpse of the wonders of the digital marketing world through my dad, who is a marketing executive. Hearing about the sort of work that he does on a day-to-day basis and also bigger projects dealing with data as well as the creative aspects, inspired me to want to start learning more.

I also took a business BTEC course at college and this turned out to be my favourite subject, especially the section on marketing. When I first saw the advert for the apprenticeship, I Knew it was perfect for me and tried my very best to impress during the interview. Of course, due to the current climate, there were a lot of applications, but fortunately for me, I was successful and was offered the position.

Starting A New Job in the Midst of A Pandemic

Like how most people find starting a new job, it felt a bit daunting arriving for my first day on the job. Especially, due to the current climate and restrictions in place as this was another aspect that I was anxious about. However, fortunately, the FPA team are amongst the friendliest people on earth and made me feel at ease from the get-go! The day started with a small technical issue (wouldn’t be a normal working day without one though, right?), but this was soon sorted and the training process could begin.

The team at FPA managed to find workarounds to training me when restrictions meant that I couldn’t shadow anyone. One of these workarounds was to do a screenshare with whoever was trying to teach me something, even if they were in the same room as it meant that I could see their screen without having to get close to them.

Another way around me not being able to shadow a colleague was engaging in good old fashioned online training courses for digital tools that I would need to get to grips with, such as Google Ads and Google Analytics. Even though this wouldn’t typically be how induction training would be carried out, I don’t feel this hindered my learning as the workarounds meant that I had as much support/access to resources than I would have done without any restrictions being in place.

The Impact of Lockdown & Working from Home

After about a month of working in the office, the November 2020 lockdown was imposed and staff were required to work from home. Of course, working from home by myself and doing a job that I’d been doing for a month wasn’t an easy task at first as it was more time consuming to ask and get the answers to any queries I had.

However, this was inevitable what with not everyone being readily available at my beckoned call like they would’ve been had we been in the office together (and neither did I expect them to be). Therefore, there were a lot of Microsoft Teams calls and screensharing occurring throughout each day. Of course, like with anything, having practice as time went on meant that my knowledge and skills were developing. Working alone from home also encouraged me to try and self-learn, which has also been a big factor in boosting my confidence as it required me to use my initiative.

The FPA team have weekly video calls, which I appreciate as it ensures that social aspect between colleagues and allows communication not only about work and impending tasks, but also incorporates the general chat that would usually take place in the office. Whilst working from home, having started a new job only a month prior seems an extremely challenging prospect, it hasn’t been. Of course, there have been times when I’ve been unsure about certain aspects relating to tasks I’ve been asked to complete. However, any queries I’ve had have been answered in a hassel-free way that makes sense to me, so I haven’t struggled massively at all.

Remote College Sessions

Although I was gaining and continue to gain some social interaction through the weekly FPA video calls, I have also been introduced to 3 other apprentices (via Zoom). These apprentices are completing the same Level 3 Digital Marketer apprenticeship course at Basingstoke College Of Technology (BCOT) and all work for different organisations. Us apprentices also have a weekly video call with our college tutor who delivers the sessions.

It has been really enjoyable getting to know the other apprentices through our video calls as the college sessions and linked assignments are a talking point and something we can all relate to. Even though I’ve never met the other apprentices personally, it feels as though we’ve known each other for a long time, so it’s great to have that comradery.

Onto the college sessions themselves. I initially thought that it would be very difficult to focus on and understand the information being fed to us by the tutor what with the sessions being remote. However, I was completely wrong. Everything is explained in a simple, yet detailed way using examples and scenarios that make clear sense and it couldn’t be made any easier thanks to our wonderful college tutor.

The sessions are far from boring and keep all the apprentices engaged from start to end (although, the 15 minute tea break in the middle does help!). The sessions on Zoom are recorded and uploaded to Google Classroom afterwards, which I find an enormous help as I can easily revisit something that was discussed if my memory needs jogging and this is an option that would not have been available to me had the sessions actually been held at the college.

Looking to the Future

After six months of working for FPA, I can happily say that I am very much looking forward to the next six (and many more!). I have hugely enjoyed continuously learning more about the industry that I have a big interest in and am very happy with how my knowledge and skills have developed over this period, even with the minor initial challenges of working from home.

I really like learning new things within my role and putting these into practice. I recently began to manage my first ever client and their Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. This has been a huge learning curve and gave me an insight into what my role will look like a little later on down the line when I am managing multiple campaigns and learn how to adapt to each individual client. I feel very positive about my future at FPA and look forward to what it may bring.