Jodie Sutton - Creative Apprenticeship at New Brewery Arts

When I finished my A-Levels, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I got good grades and was offered a place to study History at Reading University, but the thought of leaving home and going to university terrified me.

After a lot of stress and thought, I decided an apprenticeship would be a great way for me to get practical experience as well as earning money while I figured out what to do. I declined my place at Reading and started the hunt for jobs to apply to.

I knew I wanted to work somewhere creative, but never thought I would be able to do it as I’d always been told it’s such a hard industry to make a living from. However, I found an apprenticeship in Business Administration at New Brewery Arts, a local arts centre that I had been visiting for years. I loved the building, exhibitions and community work they carry out there so decided to apply.

I spent a lot of time on my application, emphasising my knowledge of the centre and how I much I wanted experience in the industry, which I think helped me stand out from the other candidates. A few days after I applied, I got an interview and then was offered the job. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to get started.

I was extremely anxious to begin with as it was such a new environment. I had no previous administration experience, and my most recent job had severely knocked my confidence. I did get overwhelmed in my first few months, but my colleagues and the college were so understanding and reassuring. They never made me feel like there were things I wouldn’t be able to do.

If you’re just starting your apprenticeship and are feeling nervous, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or worry that you’re asking too many. The people you’re working with want you to do well and anything you ask will help you improve.

At New Brewery Arts, I was in the Education Department and helped with organising and running the courses and workshops that ran on-site. I took bookings, managed information on the website and created documents for each course and workshop. As well as this I kept the studios tidy and made posters to display around the building. I also got involved with fun projects like setting up an exhibition in the main gallery and going to events around Gloucestershire to promote the centre.

I met a group of other apprentices and interns working with other creative organisations with the help of Create Gloucestershire. Together, we met regularly to plan, and then carry out a conference to help educate young people on local opportunities and creative pathways.  When I was finishing my A-Levels, I’d never thought I’d have the chance to get involved in this kind of thing.

After spending so much time working with and around creative people, I was inspired to pursue my own career in writing and journalism. Creative careers are becoming much more popular and accessible, but it can be hard to find the opportunities in order to get started. My apprenticeship was a fantastic way for me to gain another qualification, practical work, experience and to make contacts in the industry.

When I finished my apprenticeship, I moved to Bristol and began to write articles for centres like the Watershed and Spike Island. I was also picked out of over 150 people to get a place on a journalism training programme with The Bristol Cable

Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to go to university after all, and started studying English Language and Linguistics at UWE this September. It was hard not to feel apprehensive as all my friends from college were just finishing their degrees while I was starting, but I love the subject and am very excited to see where it will take me. 

Without my time at New Brewery Arts, I would never have been able to do all this. I’ve learnt that I’m so much more capable and resilient than I previously thought. My confidence has grown tenfold and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

If you’re thinking of starting a creative apprenticeship, my advice would be go for it and get involved in as many opportunities you can, you never know what kind of doors it will open for you.