Here at AMBITIOUS, we have welcomed three people on a PR apprenticeship or Kickstart Scheme to bring new people into the PR and communications industry. Our founder, Lis Anderson, puts “attitude, energy and interest” above qualifications. People having a genuine interest in what they do, their brains acting as a sponge throughout their career, gives them a much greater chance of success.
Lis knows the value of bypassing a degree in favour of working, starting her PR career at 19. By the time Lis’ friends were graduating from university and being faced with the challenging job market a recession brings, not too dissimilar from post-covid, Lis had already gained years of experience and travelled to places she never would have before.
AMBITIOUS’s Lis works with colleges and universities to develop degrees. The number of jobs as investigative journalists falls as social media managers rise. Lis compares traditional journalism roles as being like becoming a professional footballer. Yet journalism courses available in the UK outnumber PR, 262 to 66. The industry has significantly evolved over the years, and PR practitioners must be prepared to keep learning to stay ahead.
I have loved my PR apprenticeship here at AMBITIOUS PR. It’s been a rollercoaster of different work situations, as I started in 2021 which was in the height of lockdown three. From home working and staggered office visits to a full-blown agency life of events, launches and team get-togethers. On top of this, I have been learning with Cirencester College at home and finally in practical workshops. I have learnt so much from all these different working and learning situations, especially how to adapt!
I chose to do a PR and comms apprenticeship as I wasn’t sure how to get into the PR industry without some experience. With a theory-based journalism degree under my belt, I had an understanding of the media but not specifically PR. So, learning and working in a practical situation really caught my attention. I shadowed amazing PR, digital and content professionals, asking them 101 questions about their craft every day.
It’s also great to learn new skills at college that I can bring back to the office. For example, a college session taught me how to edit a podcast that I had no knowledge of before. The following week the team planned a podcast, which was a perfect chance to put my fresh editing skills to use. It was also a chance for me to learn new trends and write them up in a blog post, like when Clubhouse was the hot social media app.
I have taken on many different tasks that really made me understand what I enjoyed and what I didn’t excel at. This was great to understand what area I wanted to work in primarily in the future, which isn’t as much of a possibility when you apply for a specific role. A PR apprenticeship gets you spinning many plates to find out which you like to spin the best. I always used to think apprenticeships were for people coming out of school, but I think they’re also great for a career change, wanting to learn new things and even instead of university at all.
I will be forever grateful to directors Lis and Sarah for giving me this amazing opportunity, and to everyone on the team for my huge advancement in skills over this year. I have impressed many different people with what I have learned, and it has opened up many possibilities for the future.
What is the Kickstart scheme?
In 2020, the government launched a new scheme to get young people, at risk of long-term unemployment, into the workplace. The KickStart Scheme has now finished after a successful launch, placing 111,820 young people in roles so far. The scheme provides funding for 25 hours a week, for 6 months, to an organisation to provide a new job for a young person aged 16-24. The scheme covers employer NI contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.
How have our PR Kickstarters found the scheme?
I’m part of the marketing team here at AMBITIOUS, which means my work is centred around getting the word out about our services. A lot of my responsibilities are writing-oriented – I write social media content, I work on blog posts, and I’ve recently worked on an email marketing campaign. I also help out with business development, monitoring our CRM systems and keeping an eye out for potential clients.
I’m no stranger to the supportive environment here at AMBITIOUS – prior to joining the agency through Kickstart, I worked here as an intern last September. Being able to count on the support and guidance of everyone at the agency allowed me to become more confident and consider a career in marketing and PR, which led to me joining the agency.
At times you’ll find us calling ourselves the A-team, and to me, it’s more than a moniker. The culture here is more collaborative than rigid or hierarchical, and each person’s achievements are celebrated agency-wide. We really are a team in every sense of the word. So far, I’ve learned not to be afraid of making mistakes. I’ve just completed a degree and am just starting my career, so I’m learning a lot on the job.
I’ve also learned to trust myself. Since joining the agency, I’ve been part of a range of ongoing projects and now even lead a couple myself. Taking on more responsibility means I have to trust myself and believe in my own capabilities. I’ve definitely learned to think on my feet – marketing and PR is a fast-paced industry, so I’ve learned the importance of adapting quickly to change and being tenacious.
I’ve loved my time here so far, and I’m looking forward to getting involved in more projects as I continue my time here. Completing a Kickstarter job role here has truly helped me grow and begin my career journey, and in future, I’m looking forward to developing a portfolio of both long-form and short-form writing.
When I saw a kickstart position at AMBITIOUS, I saw the opportunity to develop my knowledge of B2B comms. I’m in a content assistant role, which wouldn’t be a role without the gov’ funding, so I get to work on my videography, SEO and general content skills which are incredibly important in the current and coming age.
My key interest is in brand activation, the launching/relaunching of projects, products, businesses and so on. I like to create a buzz and through a kickstart position I’ve already been able to better map out my career path, set myself clearer goals and discover areas in which I can develop myself. I have been interested in PR from a small age, yet there is an entire world of PR services I have discovered since joining AMBITIOUS and I expect my knowledge to expand beyond what I can imagine right now during the following 5 months.
Working within an agency is fresh territory, I’d never worked around so many people with similar interests and skills. The energy in the AMBITIOUS office is great, decades of exciting experience all bouncing ideas off each other – and having a good laugh too. AMBITIOUS being female-led is also a new experience, for me. Over the past few weeks, I have seen why women-led projects and businesses do so well. I have never felt more cared for or comfortable so early on and happy employees are productive ones.
The AMBITIOUS office is a collaborative, supportive and positive environment. The team is incredibly knowledgeable with an impressive and interesting range of backgrounds. So much of what I am learning about the industry is from the depth of knowledge held by the experts driving AMBITIOUS’ work.
I’m looking forward to getting more involved with AMBITIOUS’ clients and seeing the PR professional I become during my six-month kickstart.