As of September 2018, I completed my Business Management Higher Degree Apprenticeship with the BBC. Having begun the scheme with no industry experience I now find myself with two years of experience across three varied BBC placements, a First Class Degree and a qualification as a Chartered Manager.
Throughout the course of the scheme I spent eight months across three varied placements, firstly in Design and Engineering Governance team, secondly in BBC Three’s Editorial team and lastly in the International Projects Delivery team.
The first placement in Design and Engineering allowed me to get to grips with the organisations in’s and out’s. Comprehensive training early after joining provided me with a base to begin working as a functional team member. My work focused on supporting the BBC’s technological governance group, in other words all the back-end of BBC. The day to day consisted of data analysis, presenting and meeting minute taking which quickly progressed into the chairing of meetings. Early on in this placement I learnt that the apprenticeship could be moulded depending upon how much I put myself out there, the organisation was fully aware that I was an apprentice and therefore gave me the leeway to ask for involvement in all types of opportunities. By simply asking I soon found myself shadowing the management of the American Election coverage, working on the One Show and running my own work streams to present to higher management. As an apprentice you can often make your placements as exciting and challenging as you are willing to ask for it.
The first placement was also my first experience balancing both full time university alongside full time work. Whilst fitting all this in wasn’t easy, a phrase one of the older apprentices told me shaped my perspective and resonated with me throughout my two years; “Honestly, the work is all manageable, it’s a case of making the time to get it done”. Throughout the apprenticeship this rang true; balancing both required the dedication and motivation to make the time to fit in all the work, and doing this made the workload manageable. It’s important to note that this doesn’t come at the peril of you social life, quite the opposite in fact, I was able to benefit from social circles both at university and in work, that said a greater discipline was required to manage it all. It might not be the party heavy experience of most universities but it reward outweighs the time sacrifice.
University work takes a different light when its principles can constantly be applied to the work place. Whilst not all information learnt was directly applicable in my day to day, seeing and being in the overall business allowed me have a greater appreciation for the topics learnt. As a result I feel that this link not only allowed me to more easily obtain a First class, but it also helped me to actually better understand and remember the concepts I was learning.
Eight months in I found myself in my second placement working for BBC Three. This was completely different to my previous placement and as a result offered a range of new tasks and responsibilities to take on. On a daily basis I was curating BBC Three’s site with its content whilst occasionally I assisted in the writing of content and research for documentaries. Despite being different from what I had initially pictured the apprenticeship consisting of this placement immersed me in a team of creatives and forward thinkers. Degree apprenticeships will not always be what you first imagined them to be however if you take up the chance to learn new things and try every opportunity then such experience can be invaluable going forward.
For my final placement I worked as an Assistant Project manager on the BBC’s International Projects. The increased responsibility and increased university workload of final year was all very daunting, thus, the need to manage deadlines and manage time became of great importance. Most importantly this placement taught me that saying no to some things is equality as important as saying yes. This has been a crucial lesson going forward. In this placement I worked with project managers to help deliver project across the BBC’s 74 bureaus, my main piece of work was managing a software developer over a five month period. The apprenticeships structure meant I could take on this new complex responsibility whilst still receiving the guidance, patience and support of my colleagues. This role was of a considerably greater responsibility than the previous two and demonstrates the development and progression than the apprenticeship offers all whilst maintaining the support to get it wrong and do it better.
Having completed the two years I now find myself working as a Project Coordinator for the BBC News International Projects team (my previous placement). I also find myself equipped with invaluable skills, industry experience, knowledge and confidence in my ability to work and perform in any large organisation in the future.
If I was to summarise my experience as a Degree Apprentice in three words it would be, challenging, exciting and rewarding. Challenging, because it can’t be ignored that there is a lot of work to manage and therefore shouldn’t be a decision made without considering, “is this something I am prepared for”. Exciting, because it offers a huge amount of opportunity to develop professional and academic skills at once, all whilst meeting a multiplicity of different people and professionals. Finally rewarding, because without a doubt it has put me a step ahead of where I might be if I had done a single degree or apprenticeship, all whilst being paid and studying for free.
To conclude, the advice I would give to prospective Degree Apprentices would be to think hard if this is the route for you, and should you decide it is then to take up every opportunity presented along the way and never be afraid to ask because in the end it will be very well worth it.
Written by William Monange
To find out more about our degree apprenticeship schemes, please visit the Pearson College London website.