After discovering university just wasn’t for him, Jay knew he had to make a change that would suit him and his learning style. Now a fully-fledged digital marketer thanks to a change to an apprenticeship, Jay tells us about his unconventional journey to gaining the necessary qualifications to start his career and how it was all really just a blessing in disguise.
“During my GCSEs, the Brand Director for New Era, the world-famous cap company, was invited into my Business class at school to provide us with an insight into his marketing role and to talk about what our options were after secondary school. I was completely inspired by his talk about the marketing industry, especially where he discussed the psychological side of what makes a person buy into a product. It was from that moment on that I knew marketing was the perfect career path for me.
After gaining the GCSE grades required for A–Levels, I went on to study business for another two years alongside computing, with the aim of combining the two together to focus on a digital–based marketing career. Upon completing my A–Levels, I was then fortunate enough to get into my first-choice university in Portsmouth to study digital marketing.
After my first term, however, I realised that the course just wasn’t for me – I learn best through very hands-on education – so, I dropped out and instead worked a full-time job in retail whilst on the hunt for an apprenticeship in digital marketing. I realised that I only went to university simply because all of my friends did.
A big life lesson for me was to not follow the crowd, and do what I know is best for me.
After four painstaking months of searching and working in retail, I finally joined Haines Watts on a Marketing Assistant apprenticeship in May 2018, I was enrolled with the apprenticeship company 3aaa. I attended 3aaa’s academy in Milton Keynes to undertake my studies alongside work, but in October 2018, the company were forced into liquidation, leading me to lose my place as an apprentice which was extremely disappointing. Did I give up? No!
I sat tight until the new year, enrolling with MK College to restart my apprenticeship again. Despite a delay in completing my apprenticeship because of the outbreak of Covid-19, I finally received my grade in December 2020. After nearly two and a half years as a digital marketing apprentice, I’m so pleased to say that it has all been 100% worth it.
I have gained a wealth of hands-on experience and been fortunate enough to meet people I never would have had the chance to if I continued my University journey. Being brave and making the difficult decision to leave University ultimately changed my life for the better and I haven’t looked back since.”
What advice would you give to anyone unsure of their education or career journey?
“Simply follow what you have an interest in and do what you can to gain experience in that area. Employers value experience as it shows you can work effectively within a team, as a degree can sometimes lack those experience opportunities. Internships and apprenticeships are a great way of getting your foot in the door, particularly in my situation! As long as you have a can-do attitude and a willingness to learn, employers will value this. You can shape your future through hard work, dedication and an open mind.”
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Inspired by Jay’s story? Take a look at our brand new promo film, Follow Your Voice.