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The value of Apprenticeships in PR – An Apprentice’s perspective

By Jose Arufe Barker, PR Apprentice

At school I always believed it was the ‘vocational’ students who did apprenticeships and that anyone with any academic success, would always progress with the traditional route of exam based qualifications before entering university. However, as I reached the mid years of adolescence, I decided that A levels and the other suffocating and rigid forms of education, just weren’t for me! So at seventeen I waved goodbye to the small town life of the Derbyshire Dales and headed to the dazzle and sparkle of London. After a year of studying an intensive fashion promotion course at Kensington and Chelsea College and a rare offer from London College of Fashion for an integrated MA, most would have felt overwhelmed and pleased with their achievements.

Yet to me, an MA would never be enough. I said to my tutor at the time, I would strive to get an apprenticeship in PR and if I could defer my place for a year, I would. Her face was a picture and not a pretty one! It was her disbelief that I had become so delusional for not accepting how rare a PR apprenticeship is, which leads to me to why PR apprenticeships are so valuable.

I won’t go on about the boring things the marketers for the national apprenticeships go on about such as, “learn and earn”. This apprenticeship has given me so much more than just a wage and a few tips about office life. I learnt life skills and the transition from 10am to 4pm three days a week; to the real working world at eighteen – I felt the transition! Admittedly, somewhere along this journey, from Derby classroom to 75 Bermondsey St, I have been somewhat lucky. However, I strongly believe that the future will be in the hands of apprenticeships – academic and vocational individuals will rely on the work experience of what an apprenticeship can offer.

The fact is you don’t learn about a coverage log in a classroom. You don’t sit down every lesson, every morning at 9am and ensure that log is immaculate! You don’t need to chase any blogger or journalist, for the third time in a week, to see if their samples have arrived. You don’t build those relationships and although you learn theory and develop communication skills, it still isn’t something that will solely take you through to the next stage of your career.

I believe the value of a PR apprenticeship lays within the actual experience. The ring of that alarm at 6.50 and out the door by 8! The interchange at Euston and going from my cosy seat on the Victoria line to the sweaty armpit view of the Northern. The debate in my mind, whether to eat out or go to the shop and cook. It is this experience of independent living, unlike university with the support of the halls staff and parents. Yet from this experience, I have had to mature and accept the responsibility of my job and life. Admittedly, this is often something my peers seem rather perplexed at trying to comprehend as to why I did this route instead of the ‘normal’ path.

If I could go back to last year and ask myself for advice on a PR apprenticeship I would have said if you are lucky enough to be chosen, the experience you gain will last forever. Not simply for just the work experience and skills, but for the life experience! While, my friends are out on their student nights out Monday to Sunday, I’m sat at home with my hot cuppa catching up on the latest episode of Gogglebox or refreshing Aromatherapy Associates Instagram, with a prying eye for social coverage! So no wild nights for me, not because I’m boring or too tired, but simply so I’m fresh faced and ready for that coverage log at 9am!

If I were honest, when I walked out of those school gates in the summer of 2013, I would have never believed my luck or the fact I’d be here working in a great PR agency, doing a job I love and it is for the young, ambitious and driven individuals like myself as to why a PR apprenticeship is so valuable.