From studying maths at university and working as a part-time Barista at Costa Coffee, Katie shares her story of how she ended up working as a full-time CMO Marketing Graduate at the very place she started...

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

I knew I wanted to get a formal qualification. I did maths at university, but I don't have any technical skills that are more relevant to a data analyst role. I quickly realized when I started the graduate role at Costa that I wanted a career in data, and the apprenticeship just seemed like the perfect kind of way to gain the technical skills that I would need.


That definitely sounds like a perfect way to do that. And what made you choose a career within the data analyst sector?

I think any of the skills I have from my degree would be relevant to it, but I wanted to be in a sort of “tangible” industry, so data seemed like a great option for me.

I've got an analytical mind, so I really like digging into problems and trying to find the root cause and then working to find a solution. Being a data analyst, I could do exactly that.


You're doing what you love as well! It sounds like you're passionate about what you do. What led you to apply to Costa specifically?

So, I joined Costa in 2017 as a barista, just as a part-time job while I was studying. I think I knew almost straight away that I really loved working at Costa, and I wanted it to be where I started my career. I'm a huge coffee fan, so obviously working for the nation's favourite coffee brand is perfect.


That is pretty cool, to be honest. And what does a normal day look like for you?

I think that’s quite a difficult question because there's so much variety in my role. It's hard to say. I think recently...

I've been researching market trends and collecting data to try and help us decide where the coffee market might be heading in the future. We’ll then use that data to inform our decisions on what new flavours we'd like to develop from 2024 onwards. It's been really great to be involved in such an important project. And it means I get to be involved in fun stuff like tasting prototypes of new drinks.


Katie testing prototypes of new drinks at Costa Coffee

That’s really cool. I'm quite a big fan of Costa. I like the fact that every year they have a different flavour of something that comes out. I always need to try it. I remember when the Terry's chocolate orange one came out and I was over the moon. So, that's really cool that you get to be a part of that whole process. What has been the biggest highlight of your apprenticeship so far?

My favourite part so far has been the online live classes because you get to meet other apprentices and work on projects together. You get to hear everyone's perspective on a task that you're doing, which is really interesting because we all have such diverse jobs.

We all look at the task at hand differently, and to get to collaborate on finding solutions has been fun.


And have there been any challenges so far?

The only thing that comes to mind is getting used to splitting my time between my normal job and my apprenticeship. My manager has been really supportive and helped me find a way that worked, splitting my time for me, but also working for the rest of my team. Since then, it's been great.


What kind of support network do you have at Costa?

There are quite a few people doing apprenticeships at Costa, which is useful. We have a group chat, and we can just bounce ideas off each other, even when it's something silly, like “Have I written enough for this assignment?” or “What do I do if I need to submit something late?”

You know, all the silly questions that you might not want to ask your tutor. We can just ask each other which has been good. We also catch up once a month.


Katie leading an Activation Planning session as Costa Coffee

That's good to have a lot of people at the same level as you to bounce ideas and thoughts off. What advice do you have for anyone considering doing an apprenticeship?

I think it's a great opportunity to learn alongside working, as long as you're organised and committed. Keep track of your deadlines and plan what you need to get done each week. Just so you don't have to stress at the last minute when something's due.

When you see the deadline is a month away, that seems really far, but when you only have one day a week to study, it's not very far at all. You think “Oh, it's not due until June!”, but I've only got four apprenticeship days until then.


Is there anything else that you want to add at all?

I'm really enjoying it so far. Because I was working at Costa when I studied anyway, I'm really used to splitting my time between studying and working. So, to be able to still have that balance, it suits me well.

Sometimes you want a break from work so you can do some studying. But then the studying can get a bit much, so I can do something for work. They balance each other out well.


It seems like you're loyal to Costa after being with them for so long.

I just thought, “Oh, I need a part-time job while I'm at university,” and I saw Costa was hiring and then, suddenly, it took over my whole life.


To learn more about Katie, as well as the rest of our GetMyFirstJob Apprentice Ambassadors, click here. And to start your own journey into data analysis, see what a career in data and marketing could look like for you.

Marketing Graduate Apprenticeships guest blog