This National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke with Paige Gravesande, new apprentice at tech PR agency Wildfire. She spoke to us about the world of apprenticeships, her tips and tricks for new starters, and taking her first steps into the world of PR…
Q: Hi Paige, tell us a bit about yourself
I recently joined Wildfire as its first ever PR apprentice (no pressure). I came straight from sixth form, where I studied business, psychology, photography and English language - quite a broad mix of subjects, which is perfect for me. I love having variety in my life, keeping every day a little bit different! When I’m outside of Wildfire you can usually find me gallivanting across London trying all different types of yummy cuisines with my trusty Canon EOS by my side.
Q: Why did you choose to pursue an apprenticeship?
I was sure from quite early on in my sixth form career that I didn’t want to attend university. I still completed my UCAS applications, as my sixth form was very keen for every student to have a backup if their original plans were to fall through. My first choice was the University of Portsmouth, where I applied to study digital marketing. I visited there last March, and while it almost swayed me from the idea of doing an apprenticeship I still wasn’t 100% sure that university was the path for me.
After receiving my A-Level results, and being accepted into Portsmouth, I decided to defer my offer to the following year to give myself some time to find an apprenticeship. I know that I personally learn better through practical work rather than solely theory, so I knew I would enjoy being hands-on in the world of work while I studied. I like the fact that apprenticeships give you the luxury of doing both simultaneously.
Q: What made you interested in the PR world?
I’d heard of PR prior to searching for apprenticeship opportunities, but I didn't know much about the day-to-day reality of working in a PR firm. It wasn’t until I had a work placement at a PR agency that my interest really started to grow. After completing my work placement, I decided to do my own research into PR, moving away from digital marketing and applying for PR apprenticeships. I love how fast-paced and current PR is, so I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the hustle and bustle of the industry.
Q: What are your top tips for students when it comes to the PR apprenticeship hunt?
Don’t limit yourself to a specific sector in PR. I am now working for a tech PR agency which I never would have pictured myself doing at first. I am not the “techiest” person you’ll meet, but tech PR is such a fast-growing industry and Wildfire has some really interesting clients spanning a whole range of different technologies. You can be working on cybersecurity one day, and e-scooters the next. It's also beneficial getting that foot in the door and the PRCA apprenticeship programme is open to a wide range of PR sectors.
Another (slightly clichéd) tip is to persevere. It can honestly be so disheartening not hearing back from companies or not making it past the interview process. But you can’t give up. I had been searching for apprenticeships since this time last year and I have only now been accepted onto a programme and one that I’m really excited about. If I had given up, I wouldn’t be here today sharing my story with you in PRmoment.
My final tip is to keep your CV up to date and try to gain as much work experience in the PR field as possible. When I put my work experience at a PR agency on my CV, I instantly started getting replies and being short-listed for apprenticeship roles. Don’t let your CV go unnoticed, keep it up to date to ensure you stand out!
Q: What advice can you give someone who is interested in marketing/PR and struggling to decide on their post-college path?
I found it incredibly useful to enroll in PR and marketing courses online. There are so many free courses available out there, and it’s a brilliant way to get a taste of the industry and see if it seems like a career path you’d be interested in. Google Digital Garage and Facebook Marketplace have a great variety of free courses you can complete and with some of them, you can even receive a certification at the end that you can add to your LinkedIn profile - a great way to show yourself off to potential employers.
Q: How are you finding your apprenticeship so far?
I am really enjoying my apprenticeship role so far. I am fortunate that Wildfire has such a warm, welcoming team that has really made the induction process so smooth for me. I only started at the beginning of January but, following my induction with the PRCA, the apprenticeship course seems like it’s going to be very engaging as it covers some great topics spanning PR, comms and digital marketing. One of the highlights so far has to be the writing training I’ve been undergoing with Wildfire’s senior writer, Tim Richardson. As an ex-journalist, Tim has a great understanding of writing for the media, sharing some brilliant tips and tricks with me.
Something I’m looking forward to over the next 18 months is seeing how much I progress in the PR world and also getting stuck into client accounts and hopefully assisting with and attending events. Watch this space!
To find out more about PRCA’s PR Apprenticeship visit https://www.prca.org.uk/careers/pr-apprenticeship, for information about Wildfire’s PR apprenticeship scheme visit https://www.wildfirepr.com/careers/
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