MA BLOG: Meet Thomas in Learning

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Ever wondered what it is like being a Digital Creative MA? Or not sure exactly what it involves? Some of this year’s Modern Apprentices lift the lid on work and activities that they have been involved in.

My name is Thomas and I’m a Digital & Creative Modern Apprentice with the Scottish Parliament and I currently work in the Media Relations Office.

From a young age it was clear to me that I was creative. I used to write stories, launch small (mostly unsuccessful) businesses, and make short films with my friends after school.

Back then, if you had told me by the time I was 20 I’d be working in the Scottish Parliament in a role that allows me to be just as creative and that I could achieve that without having to get a university degree, I’d have laughed.

In school my path was set. I’d get my Highers, then some Advanced Highers, then head off to University to get my degree, after which I’d get a job. It all seemed incredibly simple but as I reached the final stages of high school it all began to fall apart.

I got my first part time job as a Sales Assistant in LUSH at the beginning of 6th year and it gave me first taste of what the working world was like. It was incredibly liberating to have my own money that I could chose to spend on whatever I liked but more importantly I learned what it was like to learn new skills ‘on the job’ and, much to my surprise, I learned things much quicker this way.

Fast forward a few months and I was accepted into a Journalism, Politics & International Relations course at Strathclyde University. Even though this was the case I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So, I started university and instantly hated it, but everyone kept telling me that “it would be worth it in the end”.

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Two years and almost £17,000 worth of student debt later, I’d finally had enough and decided it was time to leave. I then applied for the Creative & Digital Modern Apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament and it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.

Since I started my apprenticeship I have worked in two offices – the Web & Social Media Office & the Media Relations Office. Both of these roles have involved promoting the work of the Scottish Parliament to the public via the media channels which are available to us.

During my time in the Web Team, I created shareable content for the various parliament social media channels, mostly Facebook and Twitter, and helped with the maintenance of these channels and the Scottish Parliament Website. This role also included moderating First Ministers Questions discussions and creation of social media content for the Festival of Politics and the Parliaments ‘Open’ campaign which aims to promote that Parliament is open to visit for free.

I really enjoyed my time with the web-team and I picked up a number of skills which will be invaluable as I progress in my career.

I have been working in the Media Relations Office for the past couple months. This role involves writing up news releases to be shared with various political correspondents on the

work that the parliament is doing. These news releases mostly involve promoting the work of the various committees across the Parliament. I also help the Parliament photographer take pictures in and around the Parliament in order to create a photographic record of what’s happening in Parliament on any given day.

Like my time in Web Team, I have picked up an incredible amount and I am now confident that I can work with journalists in order to generate news stories in the future.

Throughout my experience there have been a number of notable moments.

Namely, all of the Festival of Politics and its promotion. The Festival of Politics was exciting because it was dynamic and fast paced. Each day was different, and I had to think on my feet to find and create social media content which would accurately represent the various events which were taking place.

I also vividly remember the moment I completed my first news release. A lot of work went into carefully crafting the words which would get journalists to write the story I wanted them to write and once it was sent to them it was completely out of my hands. When the first few stories came out after the news release I was incredibly proud because it confirmed in my mind that I was actually good at something.

It’s the feeling of learning and getting better and better at something that has driven me throughout this whole experience. I’m incredibly proud to be an MA and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may interested in becoming a Modern Apprentice to take the plunge and see what happens.