Jan 27, 2022
How to Get a Distinction in Your Digital Apprenticeship
Over the last few years, Apprentify have seen so many of our apprentices successfully achieve distinctions on their End Point Assessment (EPA). In fact, our distinction rate is one of our biggest flexes; bearing in mind, this didn’t magically happen overnight.
Training and assessing came into my life after joining Apprentify. I wanted to help apprentices adapt to the changing world of marketing and further develop the good work Apprentify do. Though we can’t necessarily guarantee a distinction for every apprentice, we can certainly ensure they have every opportunity to reach it.
In this article, I will outline the different ways you can secure a higher grade in your apprenticeship and get the most out of your Digital Marketer and Junior Content Producer creative apprenticeship based on several years of my own research and experience.
Make sure the role is right for you
There is no denying that the right person in the right role will generate the right results.
Before an employer takes on an apprentice, we work with the employer to make sure that the role is the right fit, and they have everything to support you in your apprenticeship. This includes:
- Clarifying the job role and responsibilities
- Making sure that you have all the resources and equipment needed in the apprenticeship
- Ensuring there is a mentor in place when you start
When you apply for an apprenticeship with Apprentify, you will go through an Assessment Centre to ensure that you are fit for the role and have an interest in the digital sector. During this time, you will be assessed against a range of digital skills and given plenty of advice and guidance to help you learn about the role, long before your apprenticeship starts.
Start the journey off with the right attitude
We don’t waste any precious time. At the start of each apprenticeship, we hit the ground running. From day 1, you will be introduced to your very own Development Coach and get straight into the habit of learning and preparing high-quality work.
Our Development Coaches inform you about the End Point Assessment (EPA) right from the start so that you know what is expected of you. As an apprentice, you will also have access to a detailed plan with a roadmap of activities from start to finish. This means you can easily customise and modify your course and, in many cases, push yourself ahead of the game as you will have more time to build a portfolio and prepare for the EPA.
Our Development Coaches can confidently express that learners who start off with the right mindset, end up performing exceedingly well when they get to the EPA.
Go above and beyond with your portfolio
One proven way for you to achieve a distinction in your apprenticeship is to stretch and challenge your skills set on a wide range of highly technical tasks. Not only that, but these higher-level tasks also come as standard in the course.
The purpose of an apprenticeship is to prepare you for your future career. By taking on high level tasks such as SEO audits and evaluations based on analytic data, you are encouraged to push beyond the confines of your job role. Distinctions are awarded to learners that go above and beyond the standard.
Demonstrate a wide range of tools, platforms and technologies
One relatively simple way to secure a higher grade in an apprenticeship is to showcase the wide range of tools that you use in your job role and fully explain how you use them.
This could include samples of different types of product or media, step by step guides to using tools, or case studies of projects from start to finish.
Feedback from End Point Assessors compliments how apprentices have gone above and beyond to fully demonstrate their technical skills and abilities. There is no upper limit to what you could include in a portfolio, so why not show everything?
Record proof of problem solving in customer service
Conversely, problem solving is one of the most difficult things to include in the preparation for your EPA. Apprentices who have presented case studies of resolving customer issues or being able to confidently discuss problems that they have resolved in their role are frequently commended for this in their EPA feedback.
This is difficult to prepare for simply because when problems are happening, most people don’t think to record it. Later on, when the question arises in the EPA, these situations rarely spring to mind. A ‘problem’ can mean something completely different from organisation to organisation.
I suggest that you keep a record of any times where issues like this might have arisen:
- Technical or software problems
- Requests for amendments by customers or colleagues
- Dealing with late or forgotten tasks, or rescheduling work, etc.
- Helping a client to resolve an issue they have been having
- A conflict or some negative feedback from someone in the workplace
- Fixing issues highlighted in tests or audits
- Dealing with negative comments or complaints on social media
- Any actions where they have prevented problems from occurring
Show an understanding of strategies for different target audiences
Most creative work has a target audience in mind. Understanding that there are multiple target audiences for any one message and multiple strategies to reach them is key. Learners that have a good understanding of this and can realistically plan strategies with the audience in mind are frequently rewarded with a distinction grade for their efforts.
Take leadership on a project
Apprentices that show how they have taken the lead on projects are always impressive. I would encourage any employer to let the apprentice take the lead on a project. Similarly, I would encourage any apprentice to be bold and share their ideas, make suggestions, and be empowered to contribute to their team. Showing leadership is certainly distinction worthy.
Get involved in the wider business
One trend I frequently see in feedback for apprentices that have achieved a distinction is how they understand and get involved in the wider business. With this in mind, we now put a lot more focus on this area of the course. Three areas in particular seem to make a difference:
Your understanding of your place in the business, your role and objectives, and the factors and risks that influence how the business operates. This could also include things like understanding the commercial pressures on different roles or departments within the business.
Your understanding of projects and campaigns, such as:
- Budgets and stakeholders
- Organising inter-related tasks and manage projects
- Scheduling and planning tasks ahead of time and independently managing your workload
Most importantly of all, your ability to evaluate the success of what you do. When you understand how your work contributes to the success of the business and then spend some time evaluating, learning, and improving what you do, you will truly be able to show your business acumen.
It is very difficult for any End Point Assessor to argue with cold hard facts and figures when you have presented detailed results of your work.
Get an employer reference that is distinction worthy
Some End Point Assessments include an employer reference. Where this is the case, we have observed that references that include certain details make a big contribution to the final grade. Three things that the employer can discuss to boost your grade:
Specific details about projects you have taken the lead on (what you did, who you worked with, etc.)
Details about how you have made a positive contribution to the organisation overall
Examples of how you have dealt with conflict or difficult situations in the workplace
Understanding the standards and marking criteria that lead to a merit or distinction
The standards for all apprenticeships are freely available online and most awarding organisations will give training providers and apprentices access to their marking scheme and guidance so you can see what to expect. In many cases, this also includes the merit and distinction criteria.
This freely available guidance means that you know exactly what you need to do. Your personal Development Coach knows these criteria inside and out and will guide you on how to meet and exceed each standard.
You will be given access to a portfolio mapping document early in the journey so that you can start to gather evidence and understand exactly how you can demonstrate each point. Keep in mind that the extra time spent of the fine detail pays off in the end.
Make the most of the final session with your Development Coach!
Even after you have gone through the gateway to End Point Assessment, our Development Coaches will continue to support you. This usually includes:
- Ensuring that you plan for your observation and reviewing your plan
- Planning “star method” answers to difficult questions
- Providing moral support and encouragement to help ease your nerves and anxiety
Many of our apprentices' feedback on how useful this final support session is, so we recommend you spend this time with your Development Coach before taking your End Point Assessment.
Choose an apprenticeship provider that pushes you
A few years ago, a qualification was as much about the name of the awarding body on the certificate as it was about the certificate itself. People used to refer to their apprenticeship as “getting their City & Guilds” or hold some awarding bodies in a higher esteem than others.
All apprentices today receive their certificate from the Institute of Apprenticeships which means there is no need for any snobbery about the End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). This means that a training provider or employer can choose to work with whichever EPAO they want. This has led to new EPAOs bursting onto the scene and disrupting the way traditional awarding organisations have worked.
At Apprentify, we’ve never wanted to simply send our apprentices over to a big faceless awarding organisation. We want to work with an organisation that will challenge us, support in working around our apprentices, and help us to improve our apprenticeship programmes. That’s why we’ve chosen to work with 1st for EPA.
When you complete your assessment, 1st for EPA provide you with detailed feedback on what you did well and where you might need to improve. Not only this, they also frequently feedback to with common themes of what we can do improve our service and how we can prepare our apprentices for End Point Assessment.
Can this advice really get me a distinction in my apprenticeship?
As I mentioned at the start of the article, we cannot guarantee a distinction but we do know what needs to be done to achieve one. We never said it would be easy, but the hard work will be worthwhile.
I hope that by reading this you have more questions than answers, and that is okay.
The above advice is not gospel but taking it on-board will drastically increase your chances of achieving a distinction in your apprenticeship. After all, everyone in the apprenticeship process, from the Talent Team to the Development Coaches, to the End Point Assessors; we all want you to succeed!