Emma Sisson joined LMC in September 2015 aged 18 as a PR apprentice. Since completing her Level 4 apprenticeship, she’s been promoted to PR assistant. I caught up with Emma to talk about her journey from school into the world of PR, and why she decided to embark on a PR apprenticeship.
What did you study at school and what did you want to do when you left school?
For my A levels I studied world development, philosophy and ethics, history and financial studies. Like many students I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school and I thought I would go into something business admin based.
When did you first consider a career in PR?
I went for interviews for a number of admin jobs but soon realised that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I started to look at social media jobs and set up a number of alerts to tell me about different opportunities.
How did you find out about the PR apprenticeship here at LMC?
The Level 4 PR apprenticeship came up on my feed from the alerts I’d set up. I read about the role and thought it sounded really interesting.
I applied soon after via the National Apprenticeship Service website, and after a screening process by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and a face-to-face interview, I was offered the job at LMC.
Did you consider going to university instead and why did you decide against it?
There was an awful lot of pressure from my school to apply to university. In fact, I did apply and I was accepted to do International Development.
However, despite this pressure from school and a certain amount of expectation from friends who were all going away, I always knew university wasn’t the right choice for me. I started looking for jobs and apprenticeships when I was on study leave.
I didn’t know what a university degree would lead to and I didn’t want all the debt. A lot of friends simply went for the social experience. Ironically, three years on they are now just finishing their degrees and they’re struggling to find their first jobs.
What was the advice from your secondary school careers service?
Unfortunately, the advice from school was pretty rubbish!
The careers advisor wanted me to go to university and wouldn’t discuss other options. I had heard about the Level 4 apprenticeships that were equivalent to a Foundation Degree and I really wanted to do one.
However, my careers advisor told me that Level 4 apprenticeships were few and far between and that if I did find one, I’d be highly unlikely to get it.
That made me even more determined to get the apprenticeship at LMC. It spurred me on to prove her wrong.
Did you discuss your plans with your parents? What did they think about you doing a PR apprenticeship?
My parents didn’t push me to go to uni but they were against the idea of an apprenticeship because they thought it was cheap labour. They thought I would be making tea and washing up, with no opportunity to progress.
Even after I started the apprenticeship, it took my mum a few months to come around to the idea. Now, my parents are much more positive as they hear about the interesting work I’m doing and the opportunities for development that are open to me.
What were your first weeks like?
We were right in the middle of a major PR campaign the week I started, so I had to get on with things straight away. I started working on jobs such as media monitoring and getting to grips with some of the systems we use. I spent the first few months learning the background to PR and wrote my first press release after a few months.
I studied for the apprenticeship alongside my day-to-day work. The course covered a wide range of modules from the basics of PR, to understanding the creative process, pitching story ideas to the media, through to event management. It was great having the practical experience alongside as I was able to put what I was studying into practice straight away.
My first 6 months as a PR apprentice
Read what Beth, our current PR apprentice, has to say about life at LMC and what the Level 4 apprenticeship means for her.Read Beth's blog post
What advice would you give to others thinking about an apprenticeship?
Take it seriously. If you go for an apprenticeship you need to have your heart set on it. You can’t go into an apprenticeship thinking it might do for now or as a stop-gap while you figure something else out. You have to be committed and view it as the start of your career.
What does your job involve now?
Now, my job is really varied. On any one day I might be writing and selling in a press release, preparing for client meetings, planning for events, taking part in creative brainstorms, setting up SEO for clients’ websites, undertaking media monitoring or delivering social media campaigns. That’s what I like about it, I’m always doing something different. No two days are the same.
Since completing your apprenticeship, you’ve been promoted to PR assistant. Where do you hope to go next?
By end of this year or early next I would like to be promoted to PR Executive. After that I just want to keep climbing the ladder and see where it takes me. I’m always ready to take on new opportunities and challenges as they arise.
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