National Apprenticeship Week is taking place between the 5th and 9th of March, and the NCTJ is proud to support the campaign. Each day throughout the week, we will be sharing first-hand accounts from apprentices and employers to demonstrate how apprentices work for them.
Atif Rashid, BBC Birmingham apprentice, shares his story below:
It’s not easy getting into the media industry but apprenticeships have opened up opportunities for people from all backgrounds.
I spent a number of years looking for alternative routes into the media since university isn't as attractive an option it once was. You end up in debt, no guarantee of a job and little experience. So I started blogging, pitching to editors, doing voluntary work and looking for work experience. I voluntarily made videos and ran social media for my local youth charity.
I then managed to get an interview for an apprenticeship at the Telegraph but didn’t get through. I did a week at Sky corporate affairs and also secured a guest blog at the Huffington Post by directly emailing its founder, Arianna Huffington.
Yet I still hadn’t been able to get my foot through the door with a proper job. I applied for the BBC apprenticeship two or three times and didn’t even get an interview. So I applied once again but put a lot of effort into my application by visiting my local BBC station, speaking to people in the industry, getting feedback and making a fun video describing why I’m passionate about the news.
I finally got an interview and spent days preparing for it after which I was ecstatic when I got the phone call that I had been selected.
Since then it’s been like a ladder leading to a career in journalism. We’ve had training across TV, radio and online. We had excellent help and support from the BBC Academy and City of Wolverhampton College. We were given lessons in media law, public affairs, broadcast journalism, radio bulletins and Ofcom, as well as being taught how to use a camera and edit footage. We all completed our NCTJ exams and are well on our way to completing the apprenticeship and being qualified.
It was tough at times, we had to spend many weeks away from home and sometimes we weren’t given the responsibility or work we hoped. We had to juggle both our studies and full-time work but our editors were understanding and gave us time to revise.
Slowly and surely we’ve all made our mark and have had our videos appear on the main BBC homepage and seen by thousands of people on social media. We’ve made radio packages and produced radio shows.
We were also extremely fortunate to be given placements around the BBC and opportunities to meet different editors and share our ideas. This kind of exposure people who have been working 20 years in the media don’t even get. So whatever we learned on station, we could go to other departments and show off our skills.
It’s been exciting, thrilling and while tiring, it’s been totally worth it. An experience of a lifetime is underselling it. An apprenticeship gives you the best of both worlds as you continue to study but also get on-the-job, real experience which you can then use on your CV.
Now nearing the end of our two years, I feel some sadness but am also full of hope and motivation that I can now go on and work in this fascinating, buzzing and unique workplace where no two days are the same.