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Feature Interview: Reece Hornblower, Apprentice of the Year 2020/21

Feature Interview: Reece Hornblower, Apprentice of the Year 2020/21

For the Imagefix team, the undoubted highlight of this year’s SME Awards on 29th June was the announcement that Reece had won ‘Apprentice of the Year’ 2020/21. He’s been a valued member of the team since his first day in the office in early 2020. Even though most of our contact since then has been virtual, his talent, hard work and enthusiasm has been evident throughout.

So, we’re putting Reece in the spotlight to find out what it’s been like for him being an apprentice at Imagefix for the past year and a bit.

Lets start with the moment that you heard your name read out at the award ceremony; what was going through your head?

I was happy, but surprised too, as I wasn’t expecting it. I’ve never won anything like that previously! The fact I’d won only really started to sink in once I was being congratulated by the Imagefix team and everyone else at the awards. It’s certainly a night I’ll remember. My family had wished me luck before I headed out but I wanted to surprise them, so I kept it a secret until I got home! They were really excited for me.” 

What made you decide to apply for an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing?

I’d utilised some marketing elements in a personal project I was working on. Once I’d started working with web design, branding, design and social media I found I was really enjoying the process, so I thought it was something I could see myself potentially pursuing a career in.” 

What were your first impressions of Imagefix?

I just remember a really friendly atmosphere in the Imagefix office. Everyone made me feel welcome and it was good to get to know who I was working with. It’s a great environment to work in, and everyone was really helpful when I had questions. I’d been working in retail prior to my apprenticeship so the move was a definite change of pace. I had to adapt to a different style of working, so there was a bit of a challenge initially but I soon got the hang of it. It was nice being able to sit down for work too! 

What areas of digital marketing have you particularly enjoyed learning about this year?

I think I can say I’ve enjoyed all the work I’ve done throughout the year, but to name a few of my favourites I’d have to say learning more about web design, Google Tag Manager and Analytics, and using design tools like Photoshop. I like the mental challenge these kind of tasks provide!” agefix Creative Director) has been the person you’ve worked with most; what have you gained from this?

Garry is a great teacher, I’ve learnt a lot from him this past year and continue to learn something new every day – whether it’s for web design, graphic design, analytics or creating reports. Since the pandemic all the work has been done remotely, so I usually have a tutorial or a brief over a Zoom call when there’s a new skill for me to learn. Where there’s been times I’ve been stuck on a task Garry’s always been available to help me find a solution.

He’s also helped boost my knowledge on how to communicate and work for customers professionally in the digital world. It’s similar to serving a customer in real life, making sure the work you provide is good enough to be sent off, and utilising the correct tone of voice when addressing a customer or audience.” 

What piece of work are you most proud of over the past year?

That’s a tough one! There was a set of designs I created for a social media campaign. We were in the early stages of working with a new client and we were testing out a month-long campaign. I had the copy, but it had to be translated into a design that reflected the client’s brand values. I looked at previous campaigns to give me continuity, but gave the design a new feel; sharper – more current. Garry loved what I’d done. There were a few tweaks (of course!) but in the main it was my design that was used. 

Apart from working with Imagefix, what else does the apprenticeship consist of?

“The training side of the apprenticeship consists of completing coursework, a portfolio, a handful of tests, a monthly support call with your trainer, and a final project/interview. It does seem quite intimidating at first, but looking back it was a nice and easy experience, and your trainer provides you with all the resources you need to complete the apprenticeship. There are also workshops you can join in to help you increase your knowledge on specific areas. 

What’s been the toughest challenge over the past year?

I think the toughest challenge for me has been learning to use Google Tag Manager. It is quite a complex program, so I’d had some trouble getting to grips with it, but after receiving some tutorials I’ve become much more confident in my ability to use it. Sometimes issues can arise even after you’ve set up some Tags, so it’s good to check it every so often to make sure everything’s working okay.

It’s weird, you’d think that working virtually would have been challenging but the Imagefix team are really good at keeping in touch so the workflow hasn’t really been effected. We chat several times a week on Zoom and I talk to Garry throughout the day. It was great to see them all in person at the SME Awards, and we’re just about to start face-to-face meetings again.” 

You’re also a musician; can you tell us a bit about that?

“I always enjoyed music as a kid, and found a passion for actually creating it when I was around 14. I ended up studying music for 2 years at college, and managed to get a degree in music production at university. A few years back I created a website, from which I currently sell my music online for people to use in their projects.”  

Any other hobbies?

Other than music, I am currently a regular at the gym and also enjoy bouldering on the weekends. I’ve also been pursuing a long-time passion of photography this past year.”

We’d better let you get on with your work. Many congratulations, Reece, on your richly deserved award!