My Journey to Communications – Lisa Thurbon

Date Created: 25th Nov 2021

Black and white photo of early 20s white female with hair tied back smiling at camera

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Artswork have been an important part of my career since 2017, when I began my first apprenticeship with them in Community Arts Administration. As a keen artist, specialising in abstract surrealism with acrylics, I’m a very creative individual and love to learn in a hands-on environment; the idea of sitting down in a classroom 5 days a week was a thing of the past to me the second I finished my GCSEs back in 2015.

Although I did start at college taking subjects that caught my interest, there was an element of feeling behind from everyone as I didn’t previously study the subjects at GCSE. With a class full of 30 young people, there wasn’t time for teachers to slow down the course so everyone could get caught up, so it very much relied on motivation to do that myself outside of college hours. I distinctly remember my Media teacher saying to me: ‘your work is exceptional, you clearly enjoy the activities we do, but when we’re sat in the classroom you have the attention span of a fish’. I couldn’t deny it, he was right! After this, he suggested I research into apprenticeships as I’d still be able to learn, but in a learning style that is more suited to my needs.

This was the first step into a whole new world of education that was previously unknown to me.

I attended several events to understand what apprenticeships involved, then undertook an interview at Portsmouth Guildhall for an apprenticeship under Artswork. While I did well, they felt someone else’s passions would be more aligned with their priorities and recommended me to a different apprenticeship position under Artswork at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth. I was fortunate enough to be offered the position and complete an Apprenticeship in Community Arts Administration over the course of a year – they were right, it was the perfect fit for me. I even got to undertake and achieve my Gold Arts Award!

There was no feeling left behind on the learning this time as I was given a dedicated assessor and made good friends with the other people on the course. In total there were 5 of us, which meant the days we did spend in classroom learning (once every 2 weeks) was a completely different environment to anything I had ever experienced. There was a part of me that regretted I passed on the opportunity to be able to go to university, mostly from the social aspect of things, but the friends I made on that apprenticeship are now friends for life; that regret faded very quickly.

Once the year was up and I had successfully achieved my apprenticeship, I was eager to keep learning and had more of an idea on the area I wanted to work in. After months of searching, a vacancy finally opened at Wightlink Ferries to undertake a Digital Marketing apprenticeship via PETA Training and Consultancy. I jumped at the opportunity and was offered the position. The apprenticeship guidelines had changed since my previous one, which meant that my assessor was not able to match the level of support in the coursework but was still there for me in every other sense.

To complete the apprenticeship, I had to undertake a Level 4 in CIM Digital Marketing, a Level 3 in BCS Principles of Coding, a CIW Site Development qualification, and the End Point Assessment, which all came as a little surprise because my previous apprenticeship was completely coursework based. The idea of it felt daunting, but as it was again a small group of apprentices, the teacher was able to spend quality time with us to get us to the level of understanding we needed, and the interchanging between a full-time job and classroom learning meant I was gaining most the knowledge I needed for the assessments in a hands on environment.

I had never felt more prepared for an assessment and made friends for life along the way.

Once I’d completed my second apprenticeship, my contract with Wightlink was extended to remain as their Digital Marketing Assistant, however the oncoming of Covid and the mass effect it had on the business meant my contract was unfortunately not renewed a second time. The job climate was difficult throughout Covid; I spent my lockdowns creating artwork and volunteering in a charity shop (when restrictions allowed!). It was here I met Grace, who was Assistant Manager at the time. Little were we both to know we’d be crossing paths again very soon as colleagues on the Artswork government funded Kickstart scheme.

The last career step I took before becoming Comms Officer was applying to be Artswork’s Social Media and Digital Marketing Assistant under the Government Kickstart scheme, an initiative for those aged 16-24 on universal credit to get back on the job market through a 6 month placement. Through structured training and my job placement, I regained my confidence that had dropped through the pandemic and felt ready to take the next step in my career, it was just a matter of waiting for the right fitting position. Like magic, a vacancy opened at Artswork for a Communications Officer. Working for a company that aligns with my own personal value and beliefs, as well as one that really gave me the change I needed all those years ago, still feels very surreal. I get to use my creativity in a day-to-day life alongside a wonderful team of Abi, Harry and Grace.

I’m still settling into the position but am excited for what’s to come. None of this would have been possible without going down a route of hands-on learning via Apprenticeships, and the Kickstart scheme to help me realise my potential and value after a difficult year with the pandemic. I encourage everyone who struggles with classroom learning, or if you just prefer to learn hands-on, to research apprenticeships and, if on Universal Credit, to see what Kickstart vacancies are available in your area; just drop your work-coach a message in your journal.

Artswork is hoping to open a new cohort of Kickstart vacancies soon, which you can keep an eye on here: Kickstart – Artswork

A list of websites I found particularly useful for researching apprenticeships and apprentice opportunities are:

Are they right for you? (

Not Going To Uni: Apprenticeships & Work Experience in the UK

Apprenticeships | UCAS

What is an apprenticeship? |

And you can keep an eye for apprenticeship vacancies with Artswork here: Creative Apprenticeships – Artswork

There is no set route for education. Everyone learns differently and you know what’s right for you; don’t let anyone tell you what your journey should be.


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