We caught up with Dan, our Junior eLearning Designer, who started his journey with GuyKat as an apprentice.
What responsibilities did you have as an apprentice? What were your day-to-day tasks?
When I first started, my responsibilities were all very heavily based on graphics and imagery. I would have to create graphics in the style of a client’s branding and match this to the look and feel of the eLearning that it would be a part of. I was also responsible for finding appropriate images from stock photo websites to download and, if required, edit them too. However, as I progressed through my apprenticeship, I became much more involved with the design and, eventually, the development of the eLearning that we make. Of course, as an apprentice I was given some of the less exciting jobs such as taking out the recycling and transcribing audio, but overall there weren’t many of those kinds of tasks. During a few days of filming, I was in charge of the clapperboard and keeping track of what take we were on.
What is your current job role?
I am currently the ‘Junior eLearning Designer’ at GuyKat. I am the most junior full-time member of the eLearning team.
How have your responsibilities changed?
My responsibilities now include designing and developing eLearning, graphic design, look and feel design, development of games within eLearning, and some instructional design. My work has massively developed since being an apprentice. When I first started, I had very little knowledge of page layout design or user experience/interface, which are features that I have since developed a real understanding for over time. I have also developed more technical skills such as my ability to use Adobe programmes. When I started, I only had some experience of using Adobe Photoshop, but I’ve since built my knowledge of using Captivate, After Effects and Illustrator and I am now even more confident in those than I am in Photoshop.
What were your motivations for choosing an apprenticeship?
I never really wanted to go to university, despite it being heavily encouraged in secondary school, and especially sixth form. The appeal of having zero amount of debt outweighed the possibility of a “good job”. Nor did I want to go straight into work, just because it would have been easy to find a job that related to nothing that I’m skilled in, and stay in it. So, this is why I chose to look for an apprenticeship. Being trained, earning money, gaining a qualification and the potential of a secured job seemed like the most logical and rewarding option. I feel that an apprenticeship gave me a head start against my peers that went to university, because experience is so important to employers. I see it as an extra year of experience.
What attracted you to GuyKat?
Honestly, I knew very little about the company when I applied. It was the position itself that I was interested in. Apprenticeships that aren’t just an employer looking for cheap labour are actually difficult to come by, so I applied for apprenticeships that had a design element in the description. I knew I wanted something creative. It wasn’t until the interview that I decided I wanted to work for GuyKat. I was given the impression that they wanted me as someone who could help the company whilst being taught from scratch.
What is your proudest achievement at GuyKat?
My proudest achievement was actually quite a recent one. I was given a piece of work from a client that had a very tight deadline of one week. The project involved designing and making an assessment from scratch (with questions provided). The assessment itself was fairly straightforward to create, yet making sure the scores were reported correctly was quite complicated. Different areas required separate scores and areas of strength and weakness to be shown. Through quite a bit of trial and error, I managed to create a complex scoring system that demonstrated the user’s strengths (i.e. the areas they scored highest in) and their weaknesses (the areas they scored lowest in). I also designed a certificate that pulled the user’s scores, strengths and weaknesses from the project. I had help with the coding side of this, as this was another complicated challenge. Even though the client had multiple rounds of changes, I still managed to complete the project before the deadline, and they were very happy with the finished product. All of this took a lot of thought and time from myself, and I learnt a lot through the process and felt a great sense of achievement from it.
What do you enjoy about working at GuyKat?
The culture at GuyKat is relaxed and extremely friendly, whilst still maintaining a very high level of productivity. Right from the start of my first day I felt welcomed and supported, and like a part of the team. Even though I was an apprentice, I wasn’t made to feel that I was providing any less value.
Would you recommend the apprenticeship route?
I would absolutely recommend the apprenticeship route to anyone who doesn’t think university is for them. It is a great way to gain experience of a real working environment whilst still receiving training and support from a college/training provider. By the end of an apprenticeship, you will have valuable experience and a qualification to continue onto something else. You might choose to continue to a higher-level apprenticeship, or you may even be offered a job at the place that you carried out your apprenticeship like I was.