Hilary Whitley

Job title:
Apprentice Broadcast Assistant

Hilary Whitley, 23, had been working as a Cast Member at Disneyland in Paris for four years when she saw the BBC Scotland Modern Apprenticeship Programme 2012/13 advert.

Coming at a time when she was beginning to focus her thoughts on her future it seemed a perfect opportunity to build the foundations of a long-term career.

"I was keen to take on a role in a large company where I knew that support and training would be available and of a high quality, and the BBC Scotland programme seemed to be a route into a career with almost endless opportunities and I jumped at the chance to apply."

The application process was more arduous than she imagined, with a detailed online application form that demanded some serious preparation which she recognises now as an important first opportunity to sell herself. Hilary was able to fly from Paris to attend the team-working exercises and literacy and numeracy tests before having to undergo the final, formal interview from Paris by telephone.

"I saw that this immediately placed me at a disadvantage, but I put everything into that interview and was thrilled when I was told I'd been successful."

All ten Modern Apprentices selected by BBC Scotland attended an induction day a week before the official start of their appointment. Hilary confesses her recollection of that day is a bit hazy, and that she just couldn't wait to get started. A week later, with her BBC pass in hand, she was paired with her mentor for the year, Yvonne Jennings, an executive in the Children's department.

"I can't speak highly enough of Yvonne. She has been invaluable throughout my time at the BBC and is totally committed to the mentoring role, often going that extra mile to help me out. Her practical advice and guidance has helped me to get the most out of this fantastic opportunity."

...in an organisation like the BBC any opportunity is one that will build your skills and experience

The programme rotates apprentices across a range of departments every four or five weeks throughout the year. Hilary had no preconceptions about the kind of tasks she would find herself doing with BBC Scotland, and wasn't surprised to find herself in Marketing, Communications and Audiences (M, C and A). On reflection she admits it was more of a surprise when she was moved on to a production department. "I didn't think I'd be involved in media and programme making so soon," she admits.

Being open-minded about this opportunity is something Hilary believes essential.

"By all means have a long-term idea about where you see your career moving, but you need to understand that in an organisation like the BBC any opportunity is one that will build your skills and experience, and help you establish professional networks of people who respect you for your attitude and ability and might come looking for your services at the end of the apprenticeship."

As she looks back on the experience to date, Hilary remembers being thrown in to working on Children in Need programming as amongst the most rewarding and challenging of placements, because of the sensitivity of much of the content. At another extreme, the fast-paced demands of music radio provided a different kind of challenge.


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