In this blog post, the team at GetMyFirstJob sits down with Ashanti Barrett, Talent Acquisition Advisor and former Level 2 Talent Team Apprentice at Channel 4.

Here, she speaks about her journey into media, why she applied to Channel 4, the highlight of her apprenticeship, and how her role has changed now she has been promoted from her apprenticeship. Keep reading to learn more.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

During sixth form, I considered doing an apprenticeship but my school sort of pushed me towards university. So, I went to uni to study journalism for a bit. But, with the pandemic, a lot of the learning was online, and I felt like it wasn’t the right thing for me at that time.

After I dropped out of uni, I took a gap year to figure out what I wanted to do. I then looked at my A Levels and what interested me the most. Media was something I always loved, so I applied for loads of apprenticeships within that sector. Going through the whole process I realised I wanted a mix of both working and studying. So, I knew an apprenticeship was the right route for me.


So, what made you want to go down that recruitment route within the media sector?

When I looked at all the apprenticeships Channel 4 had on offer, there were so many options. I tried to find the ones that would suit my personality. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what recruitment was at all when I applied for it. I thought when it said ‘Talent’ it was more on the casting side for TV Shows. However, when I looked at the job description, it really matched my skills.

HR is very people-oriented and I’m very much a people person. I also considered the role in events, but there was a lot of travel included in that and, as I was only 18 at the time, I didn’t want to be away from home too much.

It can be difficult when applying for jobs because there are so many out there and lots of them have different names. So, it makes it tricky to know what to look for. But by the sounds of it, you knew you wanted to be in the creative industry. Is that why you were looking at the likes of Channel 4?

Yeah, most definitely. I knew I wanted to be in the media industry, I just thought it would be more writing-specific, like a broadcast journalist. I could never see myself in an industry that wasn’t creative.

I looked at Channel 4 specifically as their values and views match my own, especially when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and underrepresented voices. So, it was always a frontrunner for me.

Even more so as I watched a lot of their programmes like Come Dine with Me and Gogglebox.

You finished your apprenticeship back in December. So how has it been since finishing? Has your role changed quite a bit since?

It has and it hasn’t. When I was an apprentice, I was always looking out for more opportunities and responsibilities. My apprenticeship was supposed to be helping with admin, such as booking interviews and supporting my manager. But my manager saw I wanted to take on more, so she gave me ownership of projects and different roles to work on early on in my apprenticeship.

So, what I do now is basically the same, but I recruit for more areas. I’m also getting more involved in the strategy side which involves a lot of planning meetings and going to networking events. I now have more authority and much more responsibility now that I’ve finished my apprenticeship.

That sounds fantastic. And the fact that you have taken on that ownership yourself, and you've really driven your own progression is brilliant. What does the process look like throughout your apprenticeship, from the beginning to the end?

I did a Level 2 Recruitment Resourcer qualification. I would get set work at the beginning of each month, mainly essays, and complete that throughout. I didn’t need too much support, so I would speak to my tutor about once a month. Your apprenticeship is self-directed, so I actually finished earlier than I was supposed to.

Once I’d completed all the coursework, I was ready for my EPA (End of Programme Assessment). For this, I was set an assignment to write a job advert using a job description they gave me. I also had to complete some questions about recruitment legislation and other aspects of recruitment. I think the hardest part was staying within the word count as the count was so small but there was so much to write!

One thing that really helped me is that I kept track of everything I did throughout my apprenticeship. As part of your EPA, you must provide evidence of what you’ve done, so taking screenshots of the work you do whilst you’re doing it makes it much easier to pull together at the end.

The final part of the EPA was an interview where I was asked questions about my day-to-day job, and I had to give lots of examples. All of this totalled up to my final grade.

So how long did the whole EPA process take?

It was so quick! I had two weeks to submit my assignment and the other documents, then my EPA interview was the week after I submitted it. And it was a fast turnaround with my grade too. I started the EPA process in November, and I got my grade by the end of December.

Really? So, it actually might seem that there's a lot to do in a short space of time but there’s not?

Yeah, definitely. Because they're conscious that you're doing your day-to-day job as well. I think they just want to make it a quick turnaround for everyone.

And now that you've finished your apprenticeship, what would you say was the biggest highlight of your apprenticeship?

The first thing definitely has to be getting promoted. But I think also just seeing how I’ve grown as a person throughout the whole process.

I started off in the company with no office experience and not much of an understanding of recruitment. Now, I can call myself a specialist in creative recruitment.

I also don’t feel like my age is a factor. I can have conversations with people more experienced than me and get involved in projects, and I understand it all and can contribute to what they’re saying.

Other highlights are that I’ve got to go to lots of panel events and even see previews of new shows! There’s been a lot of fun opportunities to do outside of my job as well.

That sounds really cool. And it seems like there's been support there for you throughout. How have you been supported during your apprenticeship?

My manager was a big support. And it's amazing because she'd never managed anyone before. I think we both grew and learned together. Even now, she knows that I want to explore other areas so is pushing for me to get that experience so I can develop further.

The whole team supported me if I needed any help on assignments, and even the early careers team would support me by having weekly or monthly check-ins to see how I was and if I needed extra help. The team would always fight for me and had a lot of patience for me too.

That's great to hear as when you’re on your first step in your career, it is good to have that kind of network around you that that you can lean on. Regarding networks, are there any kind of groups or networks that you've been able to join within Channel 4?

We have something called ERG (Employment Resource Groups). And there are loads of different groups for different things. I’m in one called ‘The Collective’ which is for diverse employees. It’s great as you get the opportunity to network with people that aren’t in your department and get to go to events and screenings for films and documentaries. Sometimes you get goodie bags, which is nice!

A lot of the groups impact the business as well, as they’re responsible for creating policies. I’m part of the Women’s Group and we’ve created a policy on menopause. So, it’s nice to see the groups you’re a part of making a difference.

It seems like you're quite a busy person! You've really thrown yourself into the role and had loads of highlights. But have there been any specific challenges that you've come across within your apprenticeship?

I think the challenge was just adapting to the new corporate role in general. Being in an office environment can be quite daunting.

I came from a retail background, so moving to a 9 to 5 role where I had to structure my schedule to fit your routine was a big change. Even things like breaks. In retail, you would have to ask permission, whereas you don’t have to do that here.

Also, adapting to workloads was a challenge. As when I joined, the team was really busy, so it’s getting used to that and juggling lots of different stakeholders, personalities, and people.

I can imagine it's a bit of a shock to the system. But seems like you've absolutely thrived. So well done. My final question for you is, have you got any advice for anyone who's considering doing an apprenticeship?

Go for it. And don’t doubt yourself, as you’ll never know until you try. Even for me, I got rejected for this role. I got to the final stage but got turned down. But one day, they called to say they wanted to take on two people for the role! So, you just never know if you don’t put yourself out there.

Find the sectors that you’re interested in and apply to as many as you want. Because there are so many roles out there that might be the one for you. So just go for it!

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Currently based near Manchester or West Yorkshire, love all things social media and digital content, and want to kickstart your career in the creative industry? Channel 4 is currently advertising opportunities for the 'Content Creatives' programme.

If you, like Ashanti, also want to find your dream apprenticeship, you can get started here by searching through the thousands of opportunities here on the GetMyFirstJob website.

Ashanti is also part of the GetMyFirstJob Ambassador Network – a group of inspired ambassadors who volunteer to talk about their experiences to inspire young people and tell them about all the opportunities available to them after school, college, or further in their careers. You can find out more about each ambassador by clicking on their profiles.

Channel4 guest blog Apprenticeships Recruitment