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Issue #8 – A Year in Review

Issue #8 – A Year in Review
16th February 2018 Reece Taylor

 

Gather around everyone. The time has finally come. It’s time for me to write my last blog as an apprentice.

Without being too cliche about it, the time really has flown by and, although I’ve enjoyed exploring the initial avenues a marketing agency has to offer, I’m happy to complete my apprenticeship and no longer be the brunt of all the ‘office banter’ as it were. Although, I get the feeling that isn’t really going to change.

Looking back over the last twelve months, I would say I’ve grown and evolved, even if my bosses argue otherwise. Regardless of that, here’s how it went.

 

New kid on the block

If I could pick one phrase that really sums up being an apprentice it would be “get the coffees in then”, in which you can only reply with a silent grunt and “sure”. But it wasn’t all about being a barista, in between making terrible coffees, I was learning the ropes of what it meant to be a digital marketing apprentice (and use the world’s slowest Mac – all part of the ‘learning curve’, so I’m told).

My introduction was gradual. I was given time to work out new softwares and get my head around exactly what it was my job entailed. The sort of tasks I began with entailed things like posting content on social media, creating case studies and looking for my personal belongings that had been hidden from me. And even taking pictures of things that didn’t need to be taken.

Jokes aside, the first couple of months were all about finding my strengths, weaknesses and my interests (which is something I was grateful for). Being new to a web design and marketing agency, I was relatively in the dark about the job roles I could take on, so I felt in good hands being given the time and guidance I needed to move into areas that I enjoyed the most.

 

Settling in

Team photo ✅
Contract signed ✅
Improved coffee making skills ❌

So, after my unofficial introduction period, which was focused on carving out more of a specific job role for me to fit into, I was entrusted with the social media and email accounts of some clients. After proving my capabilities there, I was given full creative license to modernise The Northern Foundry’s eshot having mainly followed the guidance of my superiors in regards to design work.

Here’s what it looked like before (terrible, I know).

And here’s a glimpse of what it looked like after I’d rejuvenated the dated design. Don’t worry, I’ll try not to break my arm patting myself too hard on the back.

It’s important to keep up with the times, and it was clear our eshot needed a set of youthful eyes to turn the design around, seeing as though my bosses are, well… getting on a bit.

After I created the first re-design, I collaborated with everyone in the office in order to streamline its appearance and adapt it to a more practical layout. The design has been constantly evolving, with each being better than the last, this is something that will no doubt continue as we trim the fat and ensure the content is easily digestable.

If it wasn’t apparent already, this is one of the pieces of work I’m most proud of and it essentially marked the next step of my journey as an apprentice.

That next step included turning out a monthly ‘apprentice blog’, which you’ll know all about if you’ve read my previous entries. If not, then here’s the list to bring you up to speed:

Issue #1 – Content Marketing

Issue #2 – Social Media Marketing

Issue #3 – Getting to the Top of Search Engines

Issue #4 – The Story so far

Issue #5 – Case Studies

Issue #6 – Spotify in the Spotlight

Issue #7 – Pay Per Click

 

What I’ve learnt

I always find it difficult to flesh out exactly what I’ve learnt because I’ve never really been one for tracking progress; I like to just crack on with things. However, there are a few noticeable things I’ve learnt and improved upon such as, my blog writing skills (as demonstrated in this wonderful piece of literature) and knowledge of design softwares I use often like Illustrator and Photoshop.

When it comes to creating something using one of these one of these design softwares, it’s never as straightforward as knocking something up and sending off your first design. But this makes for good practice. After your initial design, it’s important to get someone else’s opinion, as another set of eyes can often spot where influential changes and improvements can be made. Maintaining your own high standards will improve the standard of your work for your clients.

I never really considered English to be my strong point, nor did I particularly enjoy it, but I suppose it all comes down to the topic you’re writing about. When I was tasked with writing a monthly blog on my endeavours as an apprentice, I wasn’t all that thrilled, and thought it’d be difficult, given my experience with writing was generally centered on essays of why someone killed a mockingbird or something.

However, this wasn’t the case. Researching and writing these monthly blogs is something I’ve rather enjoyed about the year and it’s also something I’ve probably seen the most progress in. Being able to properly structure my writing and creatively inform people about topics wasn’t something I was particularly great at before, but I’d like to think my writing has become more interesting with time. My boss (Chief Content Officer) will try and take credit for it, being an ex-English teacher, but a bad teacher only hinders progression.

When it comes to content writing (and all other tasks), the key to success is checking your work and checking it again, because you more than often miss something in the first proofread. Training yourself to do this will give you a chance to view your work from the reader’s perspective and instill consistency in your work.

 

The Future

I know, for one, that in the future I’d like to do less of this…

But on a serious note, all of the experience I’ve gathered and goals I’ve achieved, throughout my apprenticeship has been preparing me for a full-time role at The Foundry, one I have taken on since the completion of my apprenticeship. This means more work, more client relationships and a lot more Subway sandwiches.

Looking forward, there are a few other areas I’d like to explore, now I’ve got a bit more experience under my belt. One of those things being working on more WordPress sites, something I really enjoyed doing but only had a small taste of this past year.

Other than that I’m happy progressing with the current work and job role I occupy, whatever my title is now, maybe ‘Chief Digital Officer? Yeah, let’s go with that.

 

It’s a wrap

In the spirit of conclusions, I look back on my time at The Northern Foundry so far and realise I’ve come a long way since I started here, both as a person and with the standard to which I produce my work.

Working my way up from basic social media tasks, to communicating closely with clients, all whilst stockpiling the experiences has been, all in all, great fun.

Unfortunately, for you lucky readers, this is my last apprentice blog and therefore the last in the series. But, I’m sure it won’t be too long before I make a return to blog writing, where I’m allowed full creative license to speak my mind and fire more shots.

For those of you reading this, and wondering whether an apprenticeship is for you, I can tell you it offers a refreshing alternative to university. I thought about going to university for a while, mainly because it’s pushed on you by teachers and colleges. But once I looked into what an apprenticeship entailed, I realised that the style of learning it offered was perfect for me; it’s a different experience each day, a responsibility and a pressure, on which I’ve come to thrive upon.

If you’ve got any questions about my apprenticeship, or the agency the helped bring it to life, then feel free to drop me an email – reece.taylor@thenorthernfoundry.com

Thanks, for reading folks. It’s a wrap.