3aaa: Our Apprenticeship Journey with Derby County by Sam Bailey

For most football enthusiasts, many believe that an opportunity to work in the fast-paced, highly-competitive world that is professional football can be nothing more than a dream.

I was always advised that a clear pathway into the footballing industry didn’t exist for teenagers with next to no experience and quite rightly so. That was, however, until an Apprenticeship scheme between Derby County and 3aaa was agreed in 2014.

Two years later, the Rams, in partnership with 3aaa, have already given five young people the opportunity of a life-time, experiencing first hand what it is like to work at a professional football club.

To date, Derby have Apprentices in place in Marketing, IT, Media, Administration and also within the Club Community Trust. Each Apprentice’s story is different and all have their own part to play within the club’s day to day running.

The first of our five apprentices is Mia Branston who currently resides within the marketing team as the Social Media and Marketing Assistant.

Mia, 19, began her Apprenticeship in October of 2014 after making the decision that the growing industry of social media was one that she could see a long-term future in.

After approaching 3aaa to enquire about the possibility of an Apprenticeship, the opportunity arose to work at Derby County.

Mia Said: “Before my Apprenticeship with Derby I was studying at college. I always liked the idea of working in social media as it is an up and coming industry, specific to my age group. 3aaa provided me with the opportunity of an interview at Derby and luckily I was the person to be offered the job. The job at Derby was actually the first apprenticeship I applied for. 3aaa obviously saw my interest in football and put me forward for the role immediately. The fact that it meant working at my favourite football club and the fact that I knew no two days were going to be the same made me realise almost immediately that it was a job that I really wanted to do.”

Since accepting the job at the iPro Stadium over a year ago, Mia already boasts an array of marketing experience and at the end of her year-long Apprenticeship, was offered a full time position.

“My everyday roles include looking after the club’s social media accounts, particularly Facebook and Twitter. As well as social media, I also run quite a few marketing projects – my most recent being the Future Fans campaign which allows young school children to experience match days with a parent for free. One minute I’m at the office checking my emails, the next minute I’m at the training ground doing a photo-shoot with the first team players – there really is no job quite like this one.”

Derby’s second apprentice, Jurij Fletcher, actually began his apprenticeship on the same day as Mia – within the IT department as an IT Apprentice.

After achieving his GCSE results, Jurij, 18, knew straight away that a career in Information Technology was one that he wanted to pursue.

Like Mia, Jurij got in touch with 3aaa about the possibility of a job opportunity in what he described as his “dream” career and almost immediately he was put forward for an Apprenticeship with the Rams.

Jurij said: “I went into an Apprenticeship because I knew what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to go into the IT industry and I had always liked computers – I was building computers before I left school! The thing that stood out for me at Derby was the sense of community I felt at my first interview. It seemed a really nice place to work, the job role was everything I wanted it to be and what I loved about the job at Derby the most was the fact that it was so varied, with no two days being the same.”

For Jurij, development was key to what he believed to be the perfect Apprenticeship for him.

Since he first began at Derby, the aspiring IT Technician has seen his responsibilities increase significantly over time in order to allow his progression to continue.

He explained: “When I first started, I was given small tasks to ease me into my new role and to see what I could do. Over time, I was gradually given more intricate and challenging jobs as part of my Apprentice development and that has allowed me to get where I am now.”

The third and most recent Apprentice addition to the Derby County staff is Annie Brunt, who started a year-long Administration venture back in September of 2015.

Although Annie, 18, was unsure of what exact career path she wanted to go down, after a year of studying Sport and Exercise science at Loughborough College – she knew any job in sport would be ideal.

Annie said: “Before my Apprenticeship with Derby, I was at Loughborough College studying sport and exercise science. After finishing the course, I decided that I didn’t want to go to University so I began exploring the different routes. I knew that sport was an industry that interested me the most so when I came across the Apprenticeship with Derby, naturally I applied without any hesitation. I did have doubts about whether doing an Apprenticeship was the right thing having been told that the university path was the only way to a successful career. However, since starting my position at Derby, I can safely say that I feel in a better position than anyone who has gone to University.”

Annie has already experienced a significant amount of success in her short time so far with the club – seeing her job role change from Administration Apprentice to Corporate Administrator.

Being a huge sports enthusiast, Annie was thrilled to have been offered the job in the first place and hopes that she can continue to prosper with Derby County for a long time.

She added: “Sport is always something that I’ve been passionate about and I’ve also always been very organised so administration at a football club seemed like a very good fit. My HR duties involve logging all the attendance and holiday records onto the system and putting contracts together for new starters. I’m also responsible for responding to emails regarding recruitment and organising the appropriate interviews. PA is another thing that is covered in my job role and involves me booking and creating itineraries for the senior executive team when on work-related visits. I really do love where I work and every aspect of the job. No two days are the same in the world of football.”

The fourth Apprentice is Sabah Farooq and she was the Digital Marketing Apprentice in the Derby County Community trust before being offered a full time position as a Digital Marketing and Communications Assistant. While the primary aims and objectives of the business differ slightly in the Community Trust, Derby County is at the centre of everything as both Sabah and her fellow colleagues continue to engage as many people as possible in county, through various different campaigns.

Sabah explained: “With working for the community, although we are another face of the club, we focus solely on working with people outside. We launch different programmes and sessions to keep people active – our main purpose is to engage the community through football. Digital Marketing in particular was always something that interested me so when I came across a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship with Derby County Community Trust, it was a job role that I got very excited about. Derby County was a company that stood out from the start and it was an employer that really excited me.”

Like many other young people, Sabah never really considered an Apprenticeship as she saw A Levels and University as the only route into a successful career.

However, upon completing her sixth form studies she sought an alternative option and immediately came across 3aaa who gave her all the advice she needed – since then, she hasn’t looked back.

Sabah added: “After finishing my A levels at Littleover Sixth Form, I decided that further education wasn’t an avenue that I wanted to go down so I started to pursue the possibility of doing an Apprenticeship. It was always drummed into me that I would get my A levels at sixth form and then go to University so naturally I was nervous about where an Apprenticeship would leave me. Exploring the possibility of doing an Apprenticeship was something that I never did post 16 but looking back, I really can’t understand why. In terms of my day to day roles, when I first started as an Apprentice I did a lot of administration just to ease me into the job and prepare me slowly for what was to come. As time went on, I took more of an active role with social media and also writing articles for the matchday programme.”

And finally there is me. My name is Sam Bailey and I am the Media Apprentice at Derby County.

I have been in my role for just over ten months now and much like all the other Apprentice’s stories, mine isn’t that different. After making the decision that sixth form and A Levels weren’t quite for me, I decided to seek an alternative and came across the vacancy just a day before the application deadline.

Over the course of my Apprenticeship I have been give a more defined role amongst the Derby County academy and currently report on every Under 18 game. I have also been lucky enough to go abroad with the Under 16s on a four-day tour of Spain.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think a career at my favourite football club was possible and without the help and advice from 3aaa – I don’t think it would have been. As important as the job itself is, equally as important is the learning aspect of things, which is provided by 3aaa.

One of the only Ofsted “Outstanding” rated Apprenticeship providers, 3aaa’s varied training courses have provided all of us with the vital knowledge required to be successful in the industry that we are currently working in.

Each course is specific to our individual Apprenticeship job role and an Apprenticeship assessor comes into the workplace every six weeks to continually monitor our employee development.

I think I speak for all of my fellow Apprentices when I say the opportunity provided by both Derby County and 3aaa is nothing short of life changing.

An opportunity such as the one we have all experienced quite simply didn’t exist just a few years ago.

Whether you are someone who knows exactly what industry you want to go into or someone simply exploring all your options, 3aaa are definitely worth considering.

It just might be the best decision you ever made…

You’ll now find a 3aaa Academy in BEDFORD, BIRMINGHAM, BLACKBURN, BRADFORD, BRIGHTON, BRISTOL, CAMBRIDGE, CHELMSFORD, CROYDON, EXETERDERBY, GLOUCESTER, GUILDFORD, HULL, LEEDS, LEICESTER, LIVERPOOL, LONDON, MAIDSTONE, MANCHESTER, MIDDLESBROUGH, MILTON KEYNES, NEWCASTLE, NORTHAMPTON, NORWICH, NOTTINGHAM, OXFORD, PETERBOROUGH, READING, ROMFORD, SHEFFIELD, SOUTHAMPTON, STOKE, SWINDON, TAMWORTH, WARWICK, WATFORD, WOLVERHAMPTON, WORCESTER and YORK.

If you are an Employer looking to transform your business, email: EMPLOYNOW@3AAA.CO.UK or a young person looking to take your first steps into an exciting career in IT, Web & Social Media, Digital Marketing, Accountancy, Business Administration or Financial Services, email: APPLYNOW@3AAA.CO.UK.