Today is the final day of National Apprenticeship week, where the country takes a moment to celebrate the fantastic work of apprentices and consider the benefits apprenticeships have both to the individual and the company they are working for. To celebrate apprenticeship week at Newport County AFC, we sat down with Media Apprentice Ben Catton and asked what it's really like to be an apprentice at a Football Club.
I guess the first question is: what made you choose an Apprenticeship at Newport County AFC?
I was stuck between choosing University at the end of my A level studies or going on a gap year because, while I knew I was sure about a career in sports media, I was unsure on how to properly get myself in to the industry. Not only was I delighted when Club C.E.O Alex Tunbridge offered me the opportunity, but I was also honored to work for the club I have supported since we were in the Conference South under Dean Holdsworth and volunteered with since I was a Year 11 pupil in comprehensive school. I have loved every minute of it so far.
What is your apprenticeship in? And how does it fit in with your work at the Club?
I am studying a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Social Media and Marketing. My learning assessor visits me once a month to make sure I am on track with all tasks and find out what I have been working on throughout the month. I never have to work on anything in particular to be in compliance with my course which is great, it’s picking out work I do day-to-day and commenting on it. Every single part of the Apprenticeship is new and exciting, while every day at the club is different.
What’s your role at the Club?
My title within the club is ‘Media Apprentice’. I work on all of the Club social media accounts, create and publish all iFollowExiles related content as well as writing article's for the website. I am also part of the team that handles fan queries through the email@example.com email address. When it comes to matchday I control the @NCAFCLive Twitter account which posts LIVE updates of the first team matches as well as creating the content for both the Snapchat and instagram stories.
I feel like the quality and amount of content being produced from within the club social media and video service has really stepped up this year which is fantastic to be responsible for.
Every day is different when working at a Football Club, that’s for sure! Whether it be moving offices at the start of the season or being part of the ticket selling team when Emirates FA Cup fever took over the city, it has been a terrific experience so far.
How much of your apprenticeship is working at the Club and how much is exams, coursework and classroom activities?
I am yet to spend a single day away from the club office and in a classroom, which is fantastic in my opinion! I would always choose to be closer to a football pitch than a classroom and that has been exactly the case so far in my apprenticeship. Because my learning assessor travels to my location, I don’t have to leave the office. All work is completed when that meeting takes place in the office, once a month. I would not prefer it any other way.
What were your expectations of being an apprentice at Newport County AFC?
Initially, I was excited to start work and see what my job was going to entail. I have always been very interested in media and football and thought there would be no better way to begin my career in the industry than at the Club I have always supported. I could not wait to get started! It did not disappoint.
And what is the reality of being an apprentice at Newport County AFC?
Every day is a joy to be perfectly honest. I could not imagine a better way to try and figure out what my plans are for my life and career going forwards than actually living my ideal, dream job right here at Newport County AFC. Every day is different, it has been a very enlightening, enjoyable time in my life.
There’s always plenty of debate around whether studying an apprenticeship is as valuable as going onto higher education, what are your views on this?
In terms of a comparison, actually working in the sector that you want to work in for the rest of your life, earning a wage, experiencing things you would never experience while at University is fantastic. I feel that University students barely ever experience actual working situations whereas I'm facing those every day. And of course, students leave university thousands of pounds in debt whilst I've been earning money! When you weight up those factors, for me the decision to choose an apprenticeship was easy.
An apprenticeship takes everything that is good about a degree - being able to learn and study in the sector you're interested in - but also allows you to earn a wage and get practical, hands-on experience working for a professional football club. It is the best of both worlds and a perfect mix in my opinion.
What are your ambitions for the future?
To continue to enjoy what I do. Honestly, however I eventually get in to the full-time sports media sector, wherever it may be, whether it be working for a club or another organisation, I just want to enjoy what I’m doing. I am currently also looking at the possibility of studying a higher apprenticeship right here at Newport County AFC which is an exciting prospect.
Are you aged 16-19 and think you have the skills and ambition to undertake an apprenticeship within the Newport County AFC Media Team next season? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.