In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, Alex Rule, warehouse technician at DRPG, talks about his own experiences of being an apprentice


What made you consider an apprenticeship?

Like most teenagers I had worked doing various things before, but I came to a point where I thought I needed to find something I was passionate about and could enjoy. I had two options: One was going to Kingston University on a fashion marketing course and the other was a creative venue technician apprenticeship at DRPG.

I picked the apprenticeship as I really liked the idea of working in such a creative and vibrant company plus gaining an insider’s view of a creative communication agency is invaluable. Combine that with gaining a qualification whilst getting paid it was a no brainer.

What attracted you to events?

I’ve always loved events. I’m social and I like working with people as part of a team so events seemed like an obvious industry choice.

For me, it’s amazing to have the chance to create a venue space, sometimes from scratch and turn it into something that people have an emotional response to. Sometimes you get a completely blank canvas and you have to make your mark on it and turn it in to an event space which is not only aesthetically pleasing and creative, but also functional. There are so many challenges involved when it comes to AV and staging. When you get to see the completed project, that’s rewarding.

What have you learned so far?

In terms of the qualification I am learning a lot of tech skills, how components work and how they fit together to make a set. I’ve learned a lot about lighting, AV and how all the elements combine.

From a professional point of view I have learnt a lot about interpersonal skills; how to speak to clients and suppliers, how the industry works, and how every aspect of the project and different teams work together to make a final product.

What’s your goal/dream?

I would like this to be a stepping-stone into the world of TV and film. The corporate route is a great way to get technical experience and build up my knowledge base which I can then use to springboard me into the TV and film industry. Normally the only route is through theatre, but this is a lesser known and less competitive route which aligns better with my own interests.

This apprenticeship is giving me a great foundation of technical knowledge which is transferable to any industry. The hands-on experience that I get every day will help me with any future roles I look to take on.

It’s also eye opening to see how many opportunities there are in this industry that people wouldn’t usually experience or know exist.

What are you most proud of so far?

My proudest moment is seeing where I am now and looking forward at a real career that I have in front of me. A year ago I was just doing jobs to get enough money for day to day living and now I’m looking at a proper career path that I want to stay in for a long time. It’s exciting.

My most memorable moment so far has been going to Amsterdam to put together the Honda Jazz product launch. Working on that and seeing it come together over the week that we were there from a rundown sugar factory into a full-blown product launch was amazing.

What advice would you give to suppliers/agencies thinking of taking on an apprentice?

It’s important that anyone taking on an apprentice is doing so for the right reasons. It’s not just an extra pair of hands that you can use and abuse to do the grunt work. You’re in charge of their professional development and learning. You must make sure that they have all the support they need to develop, progress and learn properly.

What advice would you give to people thinking of doing an apprenticeship?

Do it! All you have to do is ask yourself the question, where would you rather be in two or three years? Left with university debt and no solid work experience or with valuable industry specific experience, a qualification and a permanent job? It’s that simple really.