Kathryn Monkcom – Mercurius IT

Digital Marketing apprentice Kathryn has been incredibly successful during her time at Milton Keynes based Mercurius IT. In the last two years, she has implemented a full marketing strategy, progressed onto our level 4 programme, and has even been promoted to marketing manager, where she now has another apprentice who directly reports to her.

Her mentor was understandably impressed with all of this – you can read his account of the impact she has made here. To top everything off, Kathryn has recently been recognised for her exceptionally hard work by winning at the East Midlands Apprenticeship Awards.

How does it feel to be the East Midlands Higher or Degree Apprentice of the Year?

It feels so amazing! At the event they were speaking about everyone’s successes. Every single apprentice has their own story and all of them are absolutely incredible, so to be picked from that bunch of people is absolutely incredible.

I’m so excited for the national finals. It’s another great event, and also a nice opportunity for me to meet new people outside of the East Midlands.

I definitely found that most of the apprentices were from larger employers, so it would be really nice to see more apprentices from smaller businesses applying, as I think it’s harder to get those opportunities without a big HR department to push you to apply.

How have you felt supported by Baltic in order to be able to get to this stage?

First of all, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the amazing training from Scott and Natalie. I have felt supported from the very first person I spoke to even before I got my role, and the trainers and recruitment team all really wanted me to succeed.

I just felt really welcomed, compared to the experience I had at sixth form and through UCAS. Instead of insisting that you make your application perfect, and judging you for it, I felt like Baltic were on my side. This really changed my mindset and made me realise that apprenticeships were the right route for me.

How have you felt supported by Mercurius?

My employer has been so supportive from day one. They saw the potential in me and have given me so many opportunities that wouldn’t necessarily be within my job role. Things like shadowing in sales meetings, joining in calls and being Cc’d into emails, just so I know what is going on within the wider business.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

It varies massively. In the morning I usually reply to my emails, and then I could be working on anything from drafting proposals for sales or working on our website design. I also work with Alex to plan for our social media. We look at what has gone well in the past few months and plan for the next period. I also work on things like SEO to make sure we are ranking highly on google for the right keywords, as well as paid advertising and things like that.

How have your duties and responsibilities changed over the course of your apprenticeship?

When I first started, that was the company’s first foray into marketing, so I kind of set up a strategy for Twitter and LinkedIn. I also created a process and a system for our marketing activities. In April, I was promoted to marketing manager, and now it’s grown into a structured department. So the things I’ve been doing have changed dramatically from sending out the individual tweets to starting to look at things from a more strategic level.

How does it feel to have another apprentice that directly reports to you?

It’s amazing! It not only shows me how far I’ve come and how much I can do when I put my mind to it, but also that everyone who has supported me has faith in me and can see that potential. Recruiting Alex was a really eye opening and obviously new experience and skill that I now have for the future.

Do you think you would be where you are now if you had chosen the University route?

Not at all. If I had gone down the university route, I would have been going into my third year right now, so I wouldn’t have a job or any of this amazing practical experience. I would have only had that theoretical knowledge and quite honestly, I think I would have been miserable. It just wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t have been happy or fulfilled, so I think going down the apprenticeship route has allowed me to kind of get ahead of my peers.

Do you think apprenticeships are presented as a positive option in schools?

It definitely wasn’t at my school. We had an event where they had ex-students who set up tables around the hall to promote different universities, like Oxford and Cambridge. There was only one woman who was from an apprenticeship provider. No one really went to that table and it really wasn’t mentioned much.

I do think things are changing though, because a couple of months ago I went and gave a talk at another school, about how apprenticeships work and my personal experience as an apprentice. They were really happy to have us there and were promoting the option to the students.

Do you consider yourself a woman in tech, and if so, how do you overcome any challenges?

I would! I think for me, it’s how I think of myself when I am sat in a meeting room. Chances are it’s mostly male, which obviously isn’t equal, and it’s very easy to let myself blend into the background. But if I put myself forward and speak up, people respect me. It’s all about having the confidence to speak up in these positions.

Do you think it’s important to get more women in tech roles?

Definitely, 100%! I think just having that representation there and being able to see people in the room that are like you and are in the same position as you would definitely help to turn tables.

To any women thinking about a career in digital marketing, I would say to just go for it and do not let anyone hold you back. Nobody realises how much apprenticeships are valued in this industry, because it is a very practical thing. People that do degrees in marketing and advertising will come out and have to work for free before they get anywhere. I couldn’t even imagine working for free.

How did you find our online training delivery method?

I loved it, because you can access it from anywhere! I know a lot of people work from home on those courses, but I worked from the office. I got to meet people from all over the country, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had to go somewhere local.

What was it like progressing onto our level 4 programme?

It was a step up, but in a good way. I think it is quite similar to the jump you would expect from writing an A-Level piece VS something you might write for a foundation degree. It was definitely manageable, as the content felt like a natural progression from the level 3 programme. A lot of the content in the level 4 programme involves looking at strategy, project management and things like that at a higher level which has helped me progress.