Mirren's Story - A Degree With Zero Debt

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

I studied A levels in Business, Politics and PE and had every intention of becoming a sports physio. I only did Business because it fitted into the timetable! I ended up loving the Business course, particularly Marketing. When it came to thinking about what was next, I realised I preferred working and wanted a future with no debt and money in the bank, so I started looking at apprenticeships. My brother had done an apprenticeship so my family were very supportive and we knew that I could progress onto a degree through an apprenticeship too, which is still my goal.

How did you find the vacancy with Carmichael?

I found the job with Carmichael through the gov.uk Find An Apprenticeship portal, which is the best filter system for apprenticeships. The business had also advertised the job through other routes, but I didn’t know to look at those websites. I just searched for apprenticeships as my primary goal was training and qualifications.

How easy has it been to combine work with study?

Really easy – the three days a month in centre were very helpful and it was great to spend time with other apprentices. The online courses that formed part of the learning were great as I was able to do these at home and make the most of my time in the centre talking through any problems with my coach and the other apprentices. Carmichael were very supportive too and let me have time in work to complete my study, either an hour each day or a day at the end of the week – whichever worked best for our working week

What has been the most useful part of the course?

The extra courses were great – having a coach and training provider to recommend extra courses to help with both the apprenticeship and wider development in Marketing and Digital was crucial. The Principles of Coding exam was the surprising stand out for me – I would never have had the confidence to approach this on my own, but I had to do it as part of the course. I found it much easier than I had thought I would, and an added bonus was that I then became the only person in my team who could code which has been a great USP for me.

Have you learned anything new?

Masses! When I finished my A level in Business I knew a small amount about Marketing, but now I know so much more. I would never have thought that coding, analytics, customer journey and strategy were part of marketing and it’s been great to learn, understand and apply them.

Have you introduced anything new to the business?

I’ve been able to add value to my job and to Carmichael because of all that I learnt through my apprenticeship. I’ve been able to change the company approach to web design, and introduce client communications and web analytics so that we now have reporting systems, web page statistics, and job ad trackers which inform the whole business. These have helped make Carmichael more productive and time-efficient.

How was your experience with your Digital Native coach?

Anna was able to bring her real-life experience to the academic teaching which made learning quick and easy as she could give examples of how we could implement what we learnt. I was also able to talk to her about situations at work and together we could find solutions by applying the academic learning to real examples. Any questions I had were answered quickly and easily and made learning relevant, which is crucial for me.

What's next for you?

My plan is still to study for a Marketing degree and I’m currently hoping to start the CIM degree Level 6 from Oxford Brookes University once I have completed 2 years of work. My next project with Carmichael will be to redesign and build a new website and look at a rebrand for the business, which is huge and very exciting. I got so much from the apprenticeship and l love working for Carmichael – I’ve hit all the goals I started out with and with no debt!