More and more agencies, whether that is web design or graphic design agencies, are waking up to the opportunities of apprenticeships. But as I write, it seems the vast majority of roles are in the administrative or project management roles.

Things will change, slowly but surely.

If you do find yourself in an opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship in graphic design, I suggest you take a good look at who your potential employer is and what opportunities and commitment they might offer.

I'm not suggesting that employers might not have your best interests in mind and perhaps only looking for cheap labour. Why would I? But if you are about to commit your first steps in a career in graphic design, or web design and advertising for that matter, then you had better be sure you will get the most from it.

Before you apply:

  • Really look at their website, read it.
  • Read all about their competitors websites, find out as much as you can.
  • Ask if there are other apprenticeships already working there.
  • Make sure you read the job description carefully and ask questions if you are unclear on any point.
  • Learn as much about the industry as you can. Read books (!) and blogs, have a stab at learning software, do as much as you can.

When you apply:

  • Make sure you follow the application procedure to the letter.
  • Get your application checked by somebody else before submitting it.
  • If there is a deadline, do not miss it!

At the interview:

  • Listen carefully to what they have to say, make notes if it helps you remember the points you want to comeback to.
  • Ask them what roles you will have initially and how they will develop as you progress.
  • Do those roles and tasks fit with what you want to do?
  • Ask to see the studio, or where you will be working.
  • Try and talk to the staff, try to gauge how they work together. Is it a collaborative and supporting environment?
  • If people seem to be working on their own, with little interaction, how will you learn?
  • Ask about training. How will it work on a day to day basis? Who will be your next in command? Try to talk to the people who you will directly work with.

They may suggest this anyway, if not, ask if you can come and work for them for one or two weeks, unpaid. And when you are there make sure you listen to everything that goes on, try to involve yourself without annoying the team, and never, ever sit there and do nothing. If you have no work, ask for some.
Tell them what you want from the job. When you do tell them, what is their reaction?

Lastly, if the agency you really want to work for does not have an apprenticeship scheme, approach them and see if they would be interested.