Interview with Jack Woodward, award-winning digital marketing apprentice at Google

Apprentice Eye recently caught up with Jack Woodward, digital marketing apprentice at Google UK and recent winner of the Advanced Apprentice of the Year 2014 award for London in the National Apprenticeships Awards.

Through training provider Arch Apprentices, Jack worked for twelve months at Google as an apprentice performing the role of an analyst in the Travel Team.

Here, he reflects on his time as an apprentice and shares his hopes for the future.

How did you hear about apprenticeships and what made you decide to do one?

I was browsing the web, looking for routes into IT & Marketing and stumbled upon the National Apprenticeship Service’s website where I saw an advert for an apprentice web developer. It looked fantastic, so I applied, but as with most apprenticeships the pay was not fantastic, although you can think at least it’s not university debt. However, to my delight I was instead put forward for a Google apprenticeship in digital marketing which was not only amazing but also better paid. I chose the apprenticeship route because you get to learn and earn and figure out whether the job is right for you.

What sort of tasks were you doing as a digital marketing apprentice?

I took on a variety of tasks as an apprentice. My main role was that of an analyst. My tasks included; creating and sending out weekly trends for our clients so they could understand the current market trends and working on YouTube channel analysis, looking at how our clients’ channels were performing.

My most impactful project though was that of a weather script that is now live on the adwords website, which enables advertisers to bid based on the weather conditions. So, for example, you could set a rule that if it was 25 degrees in London, you could up your bids by 20%. The insight that drove the build of the script was that when it’s hot, far less people are online, but those that are online are looking to do their tasks and then get back out in the sun, so it’s important to be bidding competitively so you are top of page and top of mind.

During your apprenticeship, did you find balancing work with study challenging?

I did not really find it a challenge balancing study with work; we had one week at Arch Apprentices roughly every 5 weeks for apprenticeship training.

Were you assigned a mentor and if so, how did they help you through the apprenticeship?

Each apprentice would be assigned a manager who you would work with and have regular meetings with. My manager Sarah was excellent and now is the CMO of wooshi. Sarah was a great manager because she helped me to realise what I enjoyed doing, but more importantly what I was good at and gave me tasks that would both help the team and grow my own skills. We would regularly find a hypothesis and it would be my job to prove it right or wrong. One of these was how people’s online behaviour changes when the weather changes, which is what influenced the development of the weather script.

What are you hoping to get out of your apprenticeship?

Out of my apprenticeship I got so many things from workplace behaviour to deep analytical skills which enabled me to take on my current role as an analyst for Google+ in EMEA helping our partners get the best out of the platform. The apprenticeship also helped me to move away from home, venture into a new city and try something new.

What advice would you give to young people unsure whether or not to go to university or do an apprenticeship?

My advice would be; do what I did. Apply to university to have the safety net and then take a gap year to see if you can make it in your chosen field without going to university. You can go to university at any age but apprenticeships are great to do when you are fresh out of school. Find an apprenticeship that you will enjoy and try it out. If you don’t enjoy the job, you’ve just learnt what you would have learnt in three years of university, but this way you also get paid for it.

You were recently awarded the Advanced Apprentice of the Year 2014 award for London. What characteristics do you think make a great apprentice? Is there any advice you would you give to those hoping to follow in your footsteps?

I was honoured to receive the Advanced Apprentice of the Year 2014 award for London; it was fantastic to be recognised for what I thought was just doing my job. The fact is, I care and believe in apprenticeships. I worked extremely hard during my apprenticeship because I had such a unique opportunity to be working for one of the best companies in the world. I pushed my limits, spending personal time learning how to do things from scripting to analytics, so that I could apply that knowledge in my work. I believe it was the hard work and determination I put in and my passion for apprenticeships, such as mentoring the current cohort of apprentices at Google, or giving up personal time to help out at the various events that helped me to succeed.

My advice to any apprentice is that you have a fantastic opportunity to really get the best out of your apprenticeship, so don’t waste it. You have to put the hours in to succeed, whether that’s teaching yourself something during the evenings or working late on projects. Do something that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Do you think your decision to become an apprentice will help you achieve this?

In five years’ time I hope to have my own business in the technology industry. I am very entrepreneurial which I believe is another factor to success in anyone’s career because it makes sure that you are constantly thinking “how can this be improved? What if we did it this way?” The apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to get a jump start in my business career that is invaluable and one I would have had to go to university to then go into a company to get.

Ben Rowland, co-founder of Arch, the UK’s leading digital and IT apprenticeship programme, said: “We are all so proud of Jack and what he has achieved at Google. He is a great example of why we set up Arch.  He and hundreds of other Arch Apprentices are showing that the most demanding employers can address their IT and Digital skills gaps by hiring young people as apprentices.”