This blog is written by Rosie Daly, a Digital Marketing apprentice at Big Society Capital who sits in the Social Sector Engagement team, primarily working on Good Finance.
Prior to my role at Big Society Capital, I was in my final year at Sixth Form studying for my A-Levels, until the world shut down and suddenly I was no longer a student. I always knew I wanted to work in digital marketing, I loved the idea of creating content and making a positive impact online. I soon realised apprenticeships were a fantastic way of both gaining first hand experience, whilst simultaneously working towards a qualification in your dream job role. However, trying to find one in a global pandemic proved to be very difficult but something I’ve learned is that perseverance is key!
I have now been a Digital Marketing Apprentice for 8 weeks and here I have chosen 8 things I have learnt throughout my fairly short, yet busy time immersing myself in the world of social investment.
1. Don’t be afraid to try something new
Social Investment is something I had no knowledge of prior to starting my apprenticeship, as it's a process I would never have been exposed to. But I can confidently say I have had so much fun learning something completely new, it’s so stimulating and enlightening to have no bias towards anything and simply just learning.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is necessary to see what you are capable of, challenging yourself in order to develop and grow as an individual. I think it's the most important lesson I have learned and I highly encourage everyone else to do the same and get out of what you know, embrace the change!
2. Ask lots of questions
I had little knowledge of the social sector before working at Big Society Capital, except some fundraising here and there; so it was brand-new territory for me. It’s a known fact that charities are absolutely incredible for a multitude of reasons, the main being their commitment to helping people.
Since starting my apprenticeship, I have come to learn that there are thousands of different kinds of charities! Some are so specific and niche, which I find fascinating as I, perhaps stereotypically thought charities were generalised to help large groups of people. But in fact, some are catered to a small group of people so there really is a charity for everything!
One that stands out is an organisation called Micro Rainbow, who support LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers by providing them with safe housing and facilitating access to employment and education. I attended a session with Sebastian Rocca who is the CEO and I loved hearing about his journey with this organisation.
3. Be strict but kind to yourself
I began my apprenticeship working remotely, as the majority of people have done in the last year and a half. Starting a new job and introducing yourself whilst sitting in your front room is a very bizarre experience. I have had to learn how to be very present and engaged when looking at a screen for hours at a time, which at times can be challenging but self discipline is key.
I have also learned the importance of taking a step away from the screen including my phone, which can sometimes be difficult given the fact we live in a digital age. Just taking time away for as little as 10 minutes gives yourself a chance to refresh, during this time I typically read a book instead of scrolling mindlessly on Instagram!
4. Take time out of work to learn
When I started my apprenticeship, I enrolled in the Social Investment Unpicked course to gain a deeper understanding of what kind of sector I will be working in. I found it so beneficial as it’s designed for people who have no knowledge of social investment as it’s broken down and not overly complicated.
It also gave me an insight to the charities/ social enterprises journey to social investment and the process of that which gave me a good perspective as I see it from both sides. This course provides everything from the different types of social investment to real life case studies of successful organisations who have taken it on, it covers absolutely everything you will ever need to know.
5. Get involved as much as possible
Events have been a big part of my short time here, which has been my favourite part. I have attended two Let’s Talk Good Finance events and have been introduced to the virtual event world. It’s been such a fun experience creating content for social media to promote these events, but also just sitting in and listening to the speakers incredible journeys.
This ties into something else I have learned; engage! The best way to learn and gain understanding is to engage in everything you can, especially whilst working remotely it can be hard to connect through a screen but it is definitely possible when you engage and ask questions.
6. Take notes straight away, don’t wait
For the apprenticeship aspect of my job, it requires boot camps, exams and revision. I’ve been in my cohort for a bit over a month and have already taken part in a ‘Digital Marketing Principles’ boot camp, which consisted of two weeks of training learning everything from setting campaign objectives to how to check the performance of an ad.
It was incredibly insightful and I learned a lot about the industry which then allows me to use my knowledge in my job role. I enjoy learning and writing notes as it was a crucial part of studying for my A-Levels so it’s something I am very familiar with.
7. Set reminders before each meeting
There are so many skills required when entering the world of work, arguably the most important in my opinion is time management. It’s something so simple yet has such a huge impact on yourself and others, especially because punctuality is an admirable skill. Keeping track of time, especially at home can feel quite difficult as you’re in your own environment and work may not sometimes feel like work.
Something I’ve learned is that reminders are your best friend! Having alerts on a set timer before every meeting, something as small as 15 minutes makes such a difference. It gives you a reminder, time to get yourself ready and time to gather any information you may need all in order to show up on time and make a great impression. (Also limits any technical difficulties as you have enough time to prepare which is always a bonus!)
8. Make your voice heard
Lastly, I think the main thing I have learned is how a company works and the different dynamics. It’s unlike anything I have experienced and coming into an established organisation can feel really daunting, especially when having no previous experience in the sector. But from my very first day, I have felt so welcomed and included in the team. Everybody has been so kind and helpful answering any questions I have (and there are a lot!) with a smile.
I’ve had to learn how to slot into the team and engage in any way I can, whilst learning and contributing. It’s definitely a personal challenge but one that is worth it in order to make your voice heard!
Overall, in my exciting, busy and fulfilling 8 weeks at Big Society Capital and working on all things Good Finance - I feel as though I have grown in confidence and learned a lot about myself and the sector. I couldn’t be luckier to work at such an impactful and important organisation with amazing people who share the same goals.