Life as a digital marketing apprentice at GBS

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Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 09/04/2021

Coral Guard, digital marketing apprentice at Generation Next partner GBS Apprenticeships, shares her experience of learning through lockdown and why the apprenticeship route was the one for her.

Hi, my name’s Coral and I am a 30-year-old digital marketer apprentice at GBS Apprenticeships.

Before I joined GBS Apprenticeships, I previously thought apprenticeships were only for those fresh out of school so I was surprised to learn that you could do an apprenticeship at any age.

I originally joined GBS Apprenticeships as a business administrator but soon noticed there were was no social media/digital marketing team to help effectively promote the business online due to the small team at the time. I expressed my interest and my manager offered for me to start a digital marketer apprenticeship in order for us to build one and naturally jumped at the chance.

How has lockdown affected your learning?

Before lockdown, I would have classroom sessions twice a month with the trainer but it soon moved to online sessions via zoom. Despite the change in delivery of learning, the way we interacted did not. My trainer, Anna McGroggan, made every session engaging and interactive. The knowledge I have gained has been so valuable and the ability to practice what I have been taught straight into my work.

How has an apprenticeship benefited you?

Before my apprenticeship, I had previously studied film and TV production at college and went to university several years after for events management. I found that everyday classroom learning environments just weren’t for me. As much as I enjoy learning, I needed a more hands-on approach where I could implement what I am taught straight away. university was a great experience but I found it very difficult to find work in the field I had studied for. Many businesses wanted someone with experience, regardless of a degree. Although university is a great route to follow for some career paths, it was not an advantage for myself.

I left university with a very creative flare and degree with nowhere to use them. When I was offered the change to study an apprenticeship it was a complete turning point for me. Not only was I employed, studying and being paid but I could combine the skills from my degree with the skills I gained through the apprenticeship. It has allowed me to engage with my style of learning.

How did these combined skills help you within your digital marketing career?

When lockdown hit GBS wanted to find a way to continue delivery to learners. As I had previous knowledge of video editing I suggested that along with live delivery sessions, we could also pre-record learning sessions for distributions among learners via YouTube.

One year on and we still use this process today! I helped provide a solution to business challenges that is now part of our every day work. Another example would be teaching myself graphic design. As GBS is a small independent provider, I wanted to find ways in which I could support it financially during the pandemic as many businesses were struggling. I already had a creative flare as an artist and transferred these skills digitally. Using affordable or free technology, I have been able to create all of our marketing materials both external and internal, along with all social media graphics/videos.

What has been the most rewarding part?

As well as apprenticeships providing you a stepping stone onto a career ladder it has also been about being able to feel like part of team and seeing how your role makes an impact in supporting the team and the business. Management are always open to new ideas I present to the table and have recently approved another project on how we can help our community upskill their CV writing and interview techniques.

I have also been able to take the skills I have gained from the apprenticeship, and my professional development, to open up my own art business, Coral Louise Creative. The marketing skills have allowed me to start a successful business from knowing how to market it effectively. I have had sales from the UK, Australia, USA, Germany and many more places around the world!

The apprenticeship route towards a career has opened many doors of opportunity to me and provided me with so much confidence in my own abilities and within myself as a person.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others?

Absolutely! As someone who has tried many educational routes the apprenticeship route is fantastic for people who are quick learners and prefer a hands-on approach to education, rather than an everyday classroom environment. It is a fantastic way to get yourself onto the career ladder of your dreams.

During my time as an apprentice I have gained valuable and life long skills in digital marketing. It’s a career that constantly evolves with new technology, providing me with life-long learning and development throughout my progressive career.

What are your future plans?

I’d like to continue my career at GBS but with a role more focused on digital design and the data management side of digital marketing. I would also like to see my art business, Coral Louise Creative, flourish further and to one day have my own shop within the Chesterfield town centre.


Do you have an outstanding apprentice in your team? Why not nominate them for a Generation Next Award?

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