At Apprentice Nation, we not only put on exclusive gigs with Grammy-nominated artists like 6LACK on 16 May in London – click here to find out more and sign up – but we also help young people navigate the apprenticeships landscape.
We do this by linking you up to some of the best operators in the apprenticeships space – check out the Go Far section of the website, both for careers and training opportunities. And also by spotlighting young people who have walked the walk and actually done an apprenticeship. Here, the awesome Jessica shares her experiences as a BBC Apprentice.
Hello, my name is Jessica and I graduated as a BBC apprentice in 2017. The full title was actually a Broadcast Production Apprentice at BBC Radio 1/ 1Xtra.
If you told me at age 16 that I would study a creative apprenticeship at one of my favourite Radio stations, I would first ask, ‘what is an apprenticeship?’, and then ask, ‘who set you up to play with my hopes and dreams like that?’.
Finding my mojo
I’m originally from Norfolk and when I was studying my AS Levels I felt deeply unmotivated. This wasn’t because I was a ‘typical’ teenager or lazy. It was because I was studying subjects I was encouraged to study by my peers, teachers and family. And not because I was genuinely curious or passionate about them.
What I was actually obsessed with was politics, but not studying it! More getting out into the real world and practically helping create social change. I was (and always will be) in love with music and wanted to explore that further, and I adored writing – whether it be songs, comedy sketches or poems, I loved it all. Basically, I’ve always wanted to be James Corden.
More to life
One day I was really fed up and thought there has to be more to my life than this. I was always aware that I was different from people I knew in my town – I looked different, I had different interests and hobbies. And I wanted to pursue a role in a creative industry that didn’t ensure the certainty you’d get more ‘traditional’ careers.
Go for it
After searching for opportunities for young people to study music at Level 3, I came across a new school that was opening that September called ELAM (East London Arts and Music Industry Academy). It was being set up by one half of Chase & Status and had huge support from Universal Music. Even though it was in London and I knew we wouldn’t be able to afford it, I thought why not apply anyway? So I did.
A week later I received an email that changed my life. It was from ELAM and had invited me to an audition day. I cried, a lot – I was so happy and excited at the prospect of studying music with other like-minded people who cared just as much as I did about music. So after having a ‘fun’ conversation with my parents about it all, I used up all my Saturday job money and booked train tickets to London (AHH!)
We didn’t have a lot of money in our household growing up, so I was extremely lucky to have wonderful family and friends to help financially support my move to London. This generosity put pressure on me to ensure I made the most out of this opportunity. So I went above and beyond to study after school, liaise with masterclass guests, build my personal portfolio and intern part-time at RockCorps.
What happens next?
After interviewing Annie Mac and hearing about her experiences of being resilient and against the odds becoming a Presenter and DJ, I felt unbelievably inspired. I began looking into opportunities for when I graduate ELAM, what could I go on to learn and do?
I knew I didn’t need University (or more financial burden) to obtain a job in the music industry, but I needed more experience. So I went to every media networking event I could find and applied to every relevant apprenticeship and internship I could think of, including a Broadcast Production Apprenticeship at BBC Academy.
6 months later, I found myself working at BBC Radio 1/1Xtra as a Broadcast Production Apprentice. The only piece of advice I’d give during the application process is to be 100% yourself. You don’t have to be Kanye West to work in the music industry, so make sure you’re not creating another persona for employers. Your authentic self is all you need to get that apprenticeship and make things happen!
What did I get up to?
My BBC apprenticeship was a year-long and consisted of working on three different strands. My first placement was working on Charlie Sloth’s Rap Show focusing on Fire in the Booth and creating social media content. The second was in Radio 1’s Impact and Development team focusing on campaigns that run across Radio 1 and 1Xtra. And lastly, I was placed on the Visualisation Team, capturing and editing footage and content for Radio 1/ 1Xtra/ 2/ 6/ Asian Network.
I learnt more than I could have ever thought about writing radio scripts, organising events, editing and filming footage, pitching ideas and that’s just to name a few things that I learnt over the year. I felt incredibly supported working alongside some of my favourite producers, presenters and shows that I had admired for years. And I obtained a Level 3 Broadcast Production Qualification and earned on the job which enabled me to become financially independent.
BBC Apprenticeship: The best choice for me
Choosing to do an apprenticeship was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was thrown into the deep end often and trust me, I made lots of mistakes (and I mean a lot) but I really did learn and grow from those experiences. Some of my highlights were working on Scott and Chris’ 24 Hour Lol-A-Thon, Radio 1’s Big Weekend and 1Xtra Live. I was elated when I got offered a job afterwards, freelancing as a Team Leader, Assistant Producer and Content Assistant Producer at Radio 1/1Xtra and Asian Network.
I still have to pinch myself at the realisation that I’ve actually ended up here, and so can you if you just go for it! No matter who you are, if you’re thinking about exploring a route that doesn’t necessarily require a degree, have a look at apprenticeships.
Lifting the lid on Apprenticeships
Finding the right career path is tough. But one thing that makes it easier is knowing what all the different paths have to offer. And we think that not enough people are confident about what modern apprenticeships have to offer. Especially when you have companies like Google, Facebook and Universal all heavily investing in apprenticeship opportunities.
Apprentice Nation invites you to take a fresh look at Apprenticeships. Check out the Go Far section of our website and discover some helpful links to resources and companies that are there to support your apprenticeships journey.
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