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With three A* A-Levels to his name – Diogo Constantino was a prime candidate to go to university. Instead, the 19-year-old from Kent chose a Digital Marketer Apprenticeship with Intequal and hasn’t looked back.

“Do I go to university, do more exams, get more education and graduate in three years owing loads of money – or do I get real on-the-job experience, get my course paid for upfront and actually get paid weekly for doing it? It was a no-brainer,” admits Diogo, who achieved A* in business studies, ICT and sport.

‘I knew university wasn’t for me,” he says. “Working for a business meant I would be up to date with industry trends and technology and not stuck with university courses or theory that might be out of date by the time the course had finished. Everything that I’m learning through the apprenticeship is relevant to my day-to-day job and vice versa. I’m even ahead of my coursework because what I’m learning in the office can be applied directly to the tutorials and exams I am sitting. “

Diogo is currently on an 18-month apprenticeship with ICT experts Sweethaven Business Services. He works a 40-hour week, from 8.30am to 5.15pm, with 20 percent of his working week set aside for study, often through twice-weekly online tutorials. Sweethaven also provides a learning area onsite where Diogo can do the tutorials and have face-to-face meetings with his tutor Nile, who will come to invigilate his exams.

There are three modules to a Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship: Principles of Coding, Marketing Principles, and Digital Marketing Business Principles. On completion, Diogo will be job-ready to start a variety of roles including digital marketing co-ordinator, campaign executive or SEO executive.

“A big portion of my day is managing the company’s three websites, creating content, uploading photos and co-ordinating social media marketing campaigns,” he says. “My first marketing campaign for Sweethaven increased attendance for an event by 400 percent. The company’s MD and my manager all came up to me to say well done. All the hard work and planning I’d done paid off. It was a really good feeling.”

Another good feeling is seeing his bank balance remain in the black. “When I used to open up my mobile banking app, I would just see money leaving my account. Now it’s really nice to see an income building up. It has given me financial independence. I can pay for my mobile phone, road tax, and car insurance and even a holiday to the Dominican Republic.

“A lot of people say an apprenticeship is not for me, and teachers rave about the university. But I can honestly say do your research – you might just be surprised. Not having to pay high course fees is a massive relief, plus all my colleagues at work are incredibly welcoming. Being part of a dedicated team at Sweethaven is helping me develop both professionally and personally. I would encourage anyone leaving school to take a deep look and consider an apprenticeship.”