My apprenticeship story: Asha Patel, LeicestershireLive

National Apprenticeship Week is taking place between 8-14 February, and the NCTJ is proud to support the campaign. Throughtout the week, we will be sharing first-hand accounts from current and former apprentices and employers to demonstrate the benefits of journalism apprenticeships.

Asha Patel is completing her apprenticeship as part of her role as a Community News Project reporter for LeicestershireLive. She hares her story below:

Before starting my NCTJ apprenticeship, my hopes of becoming a journalist had been left on the back burner.

When I applied, I was working in retail in a job that meant I was talking to people from all walks of life every day - something that I continue to do as part of my reporting job now.

I applied some years after finishing my university degree and had been unsure about how to break into the industry with limited experience or knowledge.

That’s where the apprenticeship helped. I have been able to gain a qualification while gaining invaluable experience in a newsroom.

Learning on the job means one day I could be interviewing someone fascinating and another day, I will be picking up the skills I needed to tell that story.

Quite quickly, I was able to see my personal and professional development in published work.

Having my first few stories published in LeicestershireLive was a gratifying moment, and those moments have continued throughout the course as I put what I am learning into practice.

As part of my role, I have reached new and often unheard audiences, which has been both a challenge and a privilege.

My confidence as a journalist has significantly grown since the beginning of the course.

One of the great things about it is the additional sessions and workshops offered to us. I have learnt new ways to effectively use my social media channels for work, and been introduced to vital tools and programmes that I might not have come across otherwise.

The apprenticeship programme has also been a great way to make industry connections and growing my contacts list - many of whom are fellow apprentices doing great things in their respective newsrooms.