Apprenticeships: A day in the life

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week we've asked our very own Customer Solutions Apprentice, Yoanna Topalova, to say a few words about her role and offer advice to others seeking apprenticeships.  

National Apprenticeship Week at Exterion Media

What's a typical day like as a Customer Solutions Apprentice?

You may ask yourself, what is it like to be a business administration apprentice? It’s quite simple really. Being an apprentice is very much like being a regular employee to a business, apart from the fact that you have coursework to complete in order to gain a qualification! Working within the planning/customer solutions department is quite interesting and educational in many ways. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ working day at Exterion Media, I don’t think! Every day is always a new adventure. I call it an adventure because you never really know what you are going to get.  At the moment, I look after a mailbox called ‘Fleet lists’ which is where information on all the different bus fleets comes into. Also I look after 2 regions of the country, Manchester and Scotland. I have started learning about the whole process of options and also planning of campaign sites.

Being an apprentice allows me to learn about every aspect of planning a campaign and putting it up and also learning all the different processes behind everything. At 9 months into my apprenticeship I will move over to the customer solutions side to learn that side of the business. In other words I get a rounded view and experience of the business.

My day starts around 8:30am. First thing I will always do is deal with any queries and questions that may have come into my own mailbox. Then I will look over the ‘Fleet Lists’ mailbox, ‘Design & Posting Instructions’ mailbox and ‘Parcel Options’ mailbox. If there are queries to deal with in the ‘Fleet Lists’ mailbox I will focus on dealing with them first before moving on to the next mailbox and that way I will work my way through the different things I need to do.

This will follow up until lunch, which is between 12pm and 1pm depending on how hungry I am! Throughout the whole day I will continue looking after any queries that I need to deal with, within the mailboxes mentioned above. Some days I will sit with one of my team members to begin the learning process of another aspect of the department and to also have attempts in carrying this process out. This is helpful when for instance someone from our team is on holiday, or sick. Knowing how to do what that person does helps keep on top of workloads because that way, for example, I can look after their bits whilst they are away. Also on some days where the work load just seems to be piling up for one of the team members we can get involved and help each other if we know what we need to do.

I will continue doing this up until the end of the working day which is at 5pm. I know it may seem quite boring and ‘repetitive’ but every query is different, so it will involve doing different things to deal with it. I don’t think one could ever get bored at Exterion Media, as there is always something to be done. 

What is your most rewarding assignment so far? 

My most rewarding assignment so far would be actually starting an apprenticeship! This is because being an apprentice and in employment gives you a real taste of the real world and helps you learn valuable lessons and life skills. Being treated like a regular employee is actually nice because you can see people do not look at you like you are a child in school for instance, but as an adult who is capable of doing what everyone else does.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned? 

I’d say the most valuable lesson I have learned is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t give up on chasing what you want to get. For example, if you don’t think college or university isn’t the right thing for you, there are other opportunities out there for you so don’t worry!

What is your dream job? 

Well to be honest, I am not quite sure as of yet!

Is there any advice you can offer to others seeking apprenticeships? 

I’d say don’t give up on seeking an apprenticeship if your first attempt on one wasn’t successful because as long as you keep looking, I guarantee you, you will find the one for you. For example, it took me a bit over a month to find the one for me but in the end I found it! Also if you are nervous in starting one, don’t be! You will receive any support you may need to help you keep going. 

The National Apprenticeship Scheme is designed to increase the number of apprentices in England, working with employers to help them introduce apprentices into their businesses; helping those looking to start their careers to find an apprenticeship opportunity; and contributing towards the costs of the training and qualifications within an apprenticeship. To find out more about the scheme here