Case Study: Digital Marketing Assistant

Rianna completed an Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing before being promoted to Digital Marketing Assistant at
The Guardian

Rianna also runs a blog called Do it your way documenting her journey as an apprentice and providing advice on alternatives to university – check it out!

View Rianna Viggiano's profile on LinkedIn


What attracted you to a career in Marketing? 

I have always been interested in writing and communicating creatively. My initial thought was journalism and after months of research, a few interviews and placement offers and even an enrolment to a  journalism foundation degree course at a college, I realised that a career in journalism wasn’t what I really, really wanted. So, I started to unpick what I needed from a career and realised it was all there in marketing. Being creative, copy writing, using language to influence people, data analysis, social media and all the possibilities of industries in which marketing is a part of it. Lots of them could be commercial and social which would mean events, maybe travelling, constant learning as the industry develops. There’s so many aspects to get involved with.

Tell us about your route in Marketing? 

I did a level 3 apprenticeship with Agilisys Arch, they’re great for qualifications in Digital careers. I had finished my A Levels at 6th form and I knew that I didn’t need university to get to where I want to be. With Arch, I did a week’s introduction to Digital Marketing and they then set me up with some interviews. Unfortunately, my first “placement” didn’t work out – that was in a small PR company. I didn’t want to waste anymore time as there was a limit on how old you could be to start an apprenticeship, so I spoke to my Apprentice Advisor about changing my employer and as my situation was so bad, I eventually managed to get out of it and in for some more interviews. I ended up at the Guardian News and Media. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me! I became the Digital Marketing Apprentice for Guardian Soulmates. I finished my apprenticeship in November 2014 and progressed to become the Digital Marketing Assistant for Soulmates.

What did doing your apprenticeship involve? What were the advantages? 

An apprenticeship is hard work, there’s no doubt about it. For a Level 3 NVQ qualification, I had a 15 units of work to complete (like course work) and each one covered a different aspect of digital marketing, for example, one was about SEO, one was about marketing on mobile devices, one was all about the legal and ethical aspects of marketing. Each unit took about 5 hours to complete. I had 6 study weeks in the 13 month period I had to complete my apprenticeships. These took place out of work, at Arch’s headquaters- that part of an apprenticeship is almost like being back at school; you sit in a room for a week with other apprentices to complete your work. Most of these units were started during these study weeks but had to be completed in the work place.  But aside from that an apprenticeship is just like having a normal, entry level job. Lots of people don’t realise that it is a full-time job. I worked 9-5, 5 days a week, and no, you don’t get school holidays off as some of my friend who are at uni thought.

There are so many advantages, I can’t believe more people aren’t taught about apprenticeships in sixth form or college as an alternative to a
degree. Firstly, I got fantastic,first had-experience from one of the biggest and most prestigious media companies in the world – I’m so lucky to have the Guardian as my employer – you’re earning money and not getting into debt, you meet the most amazing people, there’s more opportunity to network, you mature quickly as you’re around older people and it shows future employers that you’re serious about your career path.

Briefly talk us through a typical day as in your current job 

I start my day by reporting on the previous day’s figures- the revenue, FTVs, new registrations and new subscriptions. I tend to have two or three meetings each day which could be with external people, team meetings or meetings with people from other departments. Emails are my main channel, so I spend a lot of days preparing marketing emails too, building them, inserting links and creating the copy. Each day varies, I’m usually very busy.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them? 

A big challenge which I face is presenting and public speaking – I go red talking to three or four people, let alone presenting in front of 50 people! I try to prepare as best I can in the days before it. I run through my presentation with my team or other colleagues at work before hand so they can give me some feedback on how to improve. Just before the presentation, I try not to keep going through it, that just makes me more nervous. When I get up there, I use conversational, informal language as much as possible so that I feel relaxed.

What would you describe as your personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career so far? 

A good strength of mine is copywriting, I do pretty much all of it for my team, from emails, to paid search creative, to landing page copy. I show it off as much as possible. I also think that I learn quite quickly. That is pretty much an essential part of any job, but especially with digital marketing; there’s so many new developments in processes and channels, you have to be able to adapt and learn quickly.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career what would it be? 

If you’re young enough- do an apprenticeship. It’s the fastest way to get there. I promise you will learn so much more by spending a year in a
company, doing a marketing role than you will from studying it in books and from lectures at university. In a job role, you’ll probably even have the opportunity to go to marketing conferences and seminars. Put yourself out there and absolutely go for it!