Case study

Apprentice — Carolina Barnes

After Carolina was made redundant from Jisc she wanted to stay working for the same company and so took up a community engagement apprenticeship

What qualifications do you have?

I have A-levels in business and English literature and a foundation degree in fine art.

How did you find and apply for your apprenticeship?

I was able to apply internally, via our talent acquisition team who were incredibly helpful throughout the process of getting my CV ready and feeling confident for my interview.

For my application, I had to write an assignment about a community I would like to set up and what action I would take, and I also provided another example of my writing in a blog post. Then I had to complete two interviews; the first was an automated system and the second interview was with members of the team who asked more specific situational questions about my experience.

How does the apprenticeship work?

The apprenticeship consists of two years studying, leading up to an end-point assessment where I will have to write a report, give a presentation, and have discussions about my marketing plan and concept with an assessor.

The course is structured around online learning using a combination of reading, webinars, podcasts, and monthly tutor catchups to help keep me on track.

At Jisc, I am responsible for supporting our communities that cover all topics relating to teaching, learning and libraries. With the shift to online since the COVID-19 pandemic, online communities have grown and they needed more support with providing advice, best practice guidance and raising the profile of what they are achieving. The communities help members tackle their problems while creating a sense of belonging and also help Jisc to improve on their products and services.

What do you enjoy about your apprenticeship?

I think it is great that I have the opportunity to learn on the job and compliment this with my studies. I am learning about classic marketing theories as well as new trends that are likely to have a big impact on how businesses operate in the coming years.

I can also apply my learning to my personal brand as I run a crafting blog where I talk about the importance of having a creative outlet to improve mental health.

What is the most challenging part of your apprenticeship?

Starting the apprenticeship was quite daunting. The scale of what I was expected to learn while I was working felt overwhelming. It did take a while to become used to the study material and how it was structured, then I was able to get into a routine and better plan my time.

Having to work and study from home has also been a challenge. In a post-lockdown world, I would prefer to study in a different location to where I work so I have different associations, but as that has not been possible it can be hard to switch work mode off and study mode on.

What are your plans for after your apprenticeship?

I hope to remain at Jisc and continue supporting our communities or in a marketing position.

What advice would you have for others who are planning on doing an apprenticeship?

  • Find an apprenticeship that incorporates an element of something you enjoy and that you take pride in doing.
  • When you start, don't be afraid to reach out to people to ask for help - even if they're in different departments. Making new connections can be scary but it will help you grow.

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