Now, at just 25 years-old, Beth has not only landed a role as a Junior Graphic Designer but also has an established business selling her prints across the globe. 

After spending a few years working, in what she described as a monotonous and uninspiring administrator position, Beth jumped at the chance to complete a 3-year Art and Design apprenticeship with Stockton Riverside College. Having always been artistic, this was the pathway that appealed to her most. It was hands-on, and combined both her creativity and her desire to work within the education sector.  

When asked what she enjoyed most about her apprenticeship, Beth replied, "I thoroughly enjoyed the course aspect of it. I had a passionate, understanding, and creative teacher, Liz Dixon. She was so helpful and supportive and a real champion for my work.” Beth continued to tell us how Liz gave her the creative drive to push herself, along with the confidence to start selling her work. “In my final year, I completed a module about starting your own business and Liz pushed me to continue this. I couldn’t have done it without her.” Beth has since established Magpie Illustrations and sold her original prints, not only in the UK but in Mexico, America, The Netherlands, and Vienna! She said, “It’s one of my biggest achievements to date and so surreal to think someone has my artwork in their living rooms, in multiple countries, around the world.” 

When asked if she would recommend doing an apprenticeship, Beth said “Absolutely, it was the best pathway for me as I felt I was able to build my skill set much more than I would have been able to if I took the traditional route. I was thrown into a 9-5, was able to work for real clients, and was given the responsibility of designing for five different college campuses. My apprenticeship did more than get me ready for a real-life job, as I was doing it already!” Beth also emphasised how lovely it was to have the opportunity to go into class one day a week. “It was a nice work balance between industry experience and portfolio work.” 

Beth highlighted many incredible parts of her apprenticeship, from being immersed in the working world with real clients and deadlines to finding her own creative style through her coursework. “I was constantly supported by the college throughout my apprenticeship, right up to my final exhibition.” Inspired by her working life within the graphics department, Beth created and published a wildlife magazine, which the college pushed her to sell on campus. Beth had great success and was able to raise over £100 for the WWF Foundation. With the money raised, Beth adopted a turtle and a polar bear! 

Having been given the opportunity to sell her magazines, Beth soon realised that others were willing to pay for her work, and gave her the confidence she needed to believe in herself. It was also an ideal project to gain valuable experience to draw from when starting in a graphic design position. Beth told us how she was always encouraged to come up with her own ideas, "I was able to incorporate a lot of my illustrations into the Stockton Riverside College brand. The brand is now heavily illustration focused and this is something I have helped incorporate from the very beginning.” 

On completion of her apprenticeship, Beth was offered a job at the College as a graphic designer. This was a huge accomplishment for her, and she says it was the best thing to have come from her apprenticeship, “I was on cloud nine and so thankful to get a job out of it, and even more ecstatic that it was within the industry I wanted to work in.”  

Beth has now been a Junior Designer for over 2 years and has been with Stockton Riverside College for almost 5. The apprenticeship ultimately resulted in Beth finding employment but also gave her so much more than that. “My apprenticeship improved my interpersonal skills. I gained a lot of experience working with people at all different levels of management, and it gave me confidence in my time management skills which helped me to meet deadlines."  

Beth noted how at ease she felt when she officially started full-time in graphic design. "I had no problem picking up the phone to call clients and suppliers. My apprenticeship gave me the know-how to create booklets, posters, and other print materials, and gave me the ability to have these sent to external printers within only a few hours." 

Beth has had incredible success so far and continues to keep her sights set on more! When asked if she has any future goals, Beth told us how she would love to become a Midweight Designer in the next few years. "I'd love to permanently route myself within a creative team, either continuing at the college if the opportunity presented or to take on a new venture externally." 

Everyone at Stockton Riverside College is very proud of how far Beth has come since beginning her apprenticeship with us. Well done Beth; you're a fantastic asset to our team. 

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