Kardelen Keskin

I was always undecided about my career and at one point, after receiving my GCSE results, I contemplated becoming a dentist.

While my test results may have proven that I was a suitable fit for this industry in secondary school, I wasn’t certain that this route was for me, so after my A-levels I decided to try a non-traditional career path. At 19, I enrolled with Creative Pioneers, a national apprenticeship programme in advertising, creative and digital, for a data analyst role at Mindshare. Though it was a shock to many family and friends for reasons you may imagine, I was confident that hands-on learning was the path for me.

I’ll be honest, my apprenticeship knowledge was vague. I anticipated joining at intern level, working on meaningless, administrative tasks, but I was quickly proven wrong. I was given autonomy soon after joining Mindshare with the opportunity to develop my own projects and even speak with clients. When I think back to these first few weeks, I often ponder what it would have been like to go to university. Would I have been creating and implementing projects for some of the world’s top digital brands? Likely not. I also know for a fact that I would not be working as a full-time employee, because I would still be in my second year of higher education. It is moments like these that make me appreciate the opportunity I have been given by Creative Pioneers, and needless to say I’m an advocate for apprenticeships.

Whilst the fast-paced, ever-changing media environment posed a challenge at first, I was keen to progress my career quickly from the moment I joined Mindshare. Even though I chose an apprenticeship in data, I don’t feel stuck in this industry because of the diverse set of skills I have acquired in my programme. I feel empowered to continue progressing in my current role, though I know my avenues are not restricted should I decide to change industries in the future.

Working in the data team at Mindshare has been incredibly inspiring, and a day like International Women’s Day makes that apparent. It may come as a surprise to some that the majority of my team are female. Together we’re constantly thinking of ways to innovate through technology, paving the way for future generations while also hoping to reduce the stigma for females working in data and technology.

Speaking of stigmas, there are certainly some that exist about apprenticeships, but I would not change my journey for anything. I feel more equipped to handle complex issues in and outside of work, and I feel empowered to take full control over my career regardless of the direction it may take. It’s rewarding to have a career route established at just 20 years old, because when I think of friends who chose to go to university, I know they are still a few years away from this stage of life.

For those curious about upskilling in their current role or exploring a route other than university, apprenticeships are a really strong option, such as the one I’ve done with Creative Pioneers. I can see from my experience as an apprentice that we’re helping to diversify the workforce, which is really rewarding in itself!

About the author

After completing her A-levels Kardelen Keskin decided she didn’t want to follow the traditional university route and was more interested in hands-on experience in a fast-paced environment. She parked her plan of becoming a dentist and applied for a data analyst role at Mindshare which she will complete in March 2020. The fast-paced and constantly evolving media environment was a challenge but has provided essential experience and allowed Kardelen to advance quickly.