Throughout National Apprenticeship Week we’ve been sharing our thoughts and feelings on apprenticeships and how they can benefit both employers and employees. BBJ&K are a huge advocate for apprenticeships, having recruited over 10+ apprentices since the agency was born. Seeing our apprentices grow and flourish in their roles has been a source of pride for all of the team.

We sat down with Katie Markham and Amber Sheldrake to talk about their personal experiences of doing an Apprenticeship. Katie is currently at the end of her Level 3 Advertising and Media Apprenticeship with Creative Alliance whilst working as a Digital Account Executive. Amber is Operations Director and joined BBJ&K many moons ago after becoming Creative Alliances 100th apprentice on the Level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship.

How and why did you choose an apprenticeship over higher education or other opportunities?

Katie: I chose to do an apprenticeship after graduating university because I wanted to get hands on experience in a new industry and learn from the ground up. This was the fastest way to get experience, learn and get paid all at the same time.

Amber: I was never truly set on a career path in school and whilst I felt a pressure to go to University like everyone else, I just knew it wouldn’t be right for me. I always had this perception that apprenticeships were for people who wanted to go into construction or some other form of manual labour, but when I found the government ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ website I couldn’t believe how many different options there were available in different industries. I wasn’t a huge fan of the way school worked, having to sit, listen, write and then regurgitate the information into an exam just didn’t make sense for me and that’s why I knew university just wouldn’t work. However, I knew that getting the on the job practical experience from an apprenticeship would align much better with my method of learning and I was totally right!  

What was the apprenticeship recruitment process like?

Katie: The recruitment process was really easy to follow and i always knew what was going on and when. I remember having a phone call from the recruiter at creative alliance and him telling me about BBJ&K. He said I’d be a great fit. After agreeing to an interview with BBJ&K, I went on to have two interviews where I got to meet the Operations Director Amber as well as the Head of digital Connor. Of course, I was nervous about the interviews, but mostly excited to find out more about the advertising world. The interviews were the perfect balance of professional and friendly. The first interview was based around questions of my knowledge of the industry, my background and an introduction of BBJ&K which was great as an initial chemistry session. The second interview I was asked to plan a campaign based on a certain client and objectives which was very fun and really got me into the headspace of what the role would involve which was great! Talking through my reasonings and justifying why I chose what I did felt like a big step in the right direction. A day later I found out I had been offered the job, and here I am today!

Amber: I applied for multiple apprenticeships through the government ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ website ( It was a really simple process of filling out your information like a CV and submitting it through the website. Looking back the interview process was a little daunting having never done an interview before, but it was such great experience and it felt like there was a mutual understanding that there were no expectations for me to know everything right off the bat in the interview, because the whole point of the apprenticeship itself was for me to learn! That in itself eased a lot of pressure. Overall the process was really simple and hugely satisfying, especially as I ended up being Creative Alliances 100th apprentice!

What’s a myth about apprenticeships that you realised wasn’t true upon starting?

Katie: Myths I always see are people thinking apprenticeships are ‘not as good as a degree’ or ‘are only for school leavers’.  Both of which I proved wrong. I left school, went to college, went to university and then worked full time. It wasn’t until after I did all these things, I decided to go down the apprenticeship route. In the 1 ½ years I’ve been at BBJ&K as an apprentice, I’ve learnt more than I had in the 2 years I was at university. You really cannot get anything better than that hands on experience, being in a real office environment 5 days a week learning on the job. I’d recommend anyone of all ages and life stages to start an apprenticeship if they are looking to start fresh in a new industry.

Amber: Teachers would always say that apprenticeships were all about making the tea and coffee and filing paperwork but that was far from the truth. When I started my role, I was instantly introduced to people in the industry who would spend time teaching me about different media channels and how they all worked from the very basics. I was given the opportunity to sit in on meetings with clients and liaise directly with them on their campaigns and all of this made me feel like a member of the team, not just someone there to make the tea. Now I did still make the tea of course, but even then, little tasks like this would boost my confidence in talking to others, feel like I was being helpful and give me the occasional break away from my desk that we always need. Apprenticeships are way bigger and way more effective than some people give them credit for, and I’m so pleased to see this mindset has changed so much since I did mine.

If you could sit in front of an employer and had to persuade them to take on an apprentice, what would you tell them?

Katie: Apprentices are willing to learn and wanting to learn at the bottom to work their way up in the industry. As John says, we are a blank canvas that are ready to be painted and we are open to all possibilities. We’re young, come in with new ideas and really are ready to be taken on a journey of our career. I would say hiring an apprentice is an investment to the company. Over time, talent will grow and develop, and the apprentices’ skills will be tailored to your business needs.  

Amber: When I started I was so eager to learn everything and anything. I’d jump at any chance to get involved even with the smallest of tasks and I absorbed information like a sponge. I had no expectations or prior experience so my mind was a total blank canvas allowing me to adapt. That is the beauty of hiring apprentices. You can adapt their training to the needs of your business whilst actively creating new jobs in your industry. As Operations Director who is involved in recruitment there is nothing more rewarding than finding a candidate who is excited to join the industry. It’s such a rewarding feeling to take on apprentices and watch them progress. I often overhear some of our current apprentices chatting about media planning and feel super proud of how far they’ve come.  

Would you recommend doing an apprenticeship? if so, why?

Katie: I would definitely recommend doing an apprenticeship, no matter the age or experience in life. It’s the fastest way to get hands on experience and learn in such a big industry and work with real clients. Alongside day to day work, you have constant support systems in place and seminars which really elevate your learning. The experience you get will improve your employability by miles as opposed to university where you don’t deal with real clients or day to day jobs. I had doubts myself because of the myths people hang over apprenticeships, but the best advice I would give is to take the jump and go for it! Before you know it, a year will have passed and you will be in a whole new industry!

Amber: 10000%, you learn so much in your apprenticeship both on and off the job. The training and coursework you do is all based around your day to day work which gives you the opportunity to reflect on your job role and find areas for personal growth and development. Not only that, you earn whilst you learn and after your apprenticeship ends you have a qualification and skills to access jobs in your industry. Or, like 85% of apprentices you will move into a full time role with your current employer. It’s a win-win situation!

BBJ&K are regularly looking for new apprentices to join our wonderful team. For updates and job postings, check out our social channels or search BBJ&K at