-A A +A
Select color visibility that suits you Basic theme Dark theme Darker theme Text only

Chloe O’Toole

Chloe O’Toole: Agency Sales Apprentice

I’m 20 years old and in October 2016 I gained a place with Channel 4 as an Agency Sales Apprentice.

I have severe hearing loss in my right ear and I’m deaf to high pitched frequencies in my left, this means although I can hear sounds and people talking- I can’t understand what people say. I communicate through lip reading and speech. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what people say, making a lot of my responses very delayed.

I found out about Channel 4 apprenticeships through a brilliant website called “GoThinkBig”. GoThinkBig.co.uk is an online digital hub from O2 that helps people find exciting work experience opportunities, valuable career advice, amazing insider contacts and exclusive tips to set you up for your dream career. Originally I was going to apply for university, but I somehow felt it wasn’t quite right for me. I always wanted to work in the television so when I came across the apprenticeship at Channel 4 I just knew it was for me. I knew how Channel 4 dealt with disabilities and how they were so enthusiastic and supportive of people who struggled with them -especially after the broadcasting of the Paralympics.

Before the apprenticeship I was working in my local newsagents and T-Maxx both part time, it was busy but that’s how I liked to be and before that I was working on the phones as a customer advisor for the Co-Operative bank……I was only there for 2 months. I really didn’t enjoy it, when applying for the job I was under the impression that I would be working in the digital team which means I don’t have to communicate with customers on the phone but unfortunately I was made to go on the phones more than often which I couldn’t cope with which lead me to quitting. I had some good experiences on the phones- some really lovely customers but I’ve also dealt with rude people. One customer I was dealing with once asked me “are you stupid or deaf” that really hurt me, I told him I had hearing difficulties hoping that he would understand and he replied with “If you can’t hear why the f*** are you on the phones?!” and hung up.

TK-Maxx dealt with my hearing issues a lot better, they told me if the phone rings I don’t have to pick up and if they wanted me in the stock room instead of calling me over the address system they’d come and find me. This gave me so much confidence when it came to understanding that companies do have to look after all staff and do anything they need to fit their needs. After this I felt ready to move on and look for a job that I knew I wanted a career in – television!

Channel 4 have been wonderful to me, in my application I told them of my deafness and when they sent me an email to say I’d been invited to an interview they asked me if they needed to do anything to help me in the interview which was amazing. In the interview they were brilliant, I walked in feeling so nervous, I’d never worked with media before!

There were so many talented people at the interview, some having experience in TV before and one girl even came close in a competition to write an episode of Hollyoaks! I honestly thought I had no chance, for the interview they asked us all to prepare an idea for a 6 part series on All 4 (our on demand service) and present it back to them. I worked so hard focussing on this every day up until the interview and it bagged me the deal! I was so proud, I couldn’t believe it… I am working for Channel 4! Not only am I working for them and earning good money, I’m also completing qualifications at the same time- qualifications that I get to choose.

Since working here, I just feel like a new person. Channel 4 are so supportive and wonderful, they provided me with a text phone and although I don’t use the automated speech it’s much louder and clearer than the office phones. I don’t feel embarrassed telling people I’m deaf, I feel proud because I’ve achieved a wonderful role in a wonderful team despite my difficulties. I absolutely love being an apprentice, I get to do learn about different departments, I get to travel to places, go to events and parties, even meet celebrities, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I hope to move into the creative department, that’s when I’ll really show my true colours. My current office in Manchester has already picked up on my designing skills and has given me lots of opportunities to show them off! I get to create posters, interactive emails, logos… you name it! Not only am I getting to do creative work in the office but I’m also completing a Level 3 Diploma in Digital Marketing qualification which means I get to create a website of my choice and even apps!

The best thing about my apprenticeship is having the chance to inspire others. I can’t encourage you enough to go out there and complete an apprenticeship, unlike university you get to work straight away, you gain amazing experience and still come out with grades. The majority of the time you are even guaranteed a job at the end of it! I’m definitely hoping to stay with Channel 4 after my apprenticeship has ended and I’m confident that I will and I look forward to what the future brings.

My tips for applying for an apprenticeship are:

BE YOU

Be honest; don’t feel ashamed to say you’re disabled, they will help and support you and it is your right to be treated fairly in the workplace.

Has your disability opened any opportunities for you? Tell them!

Make sure it’s the right apprenticeship for you, ask yourself: is it something you want to consider as a career?

Let your colours shine, if you’re a creative person- show them you are!

Ask questions if you need to!

Don’t feel upset if you don’t gain the apprenticeship you were after, there will be opportunities and everything happens for a good reason. Learn what it is you need to do better for your next application, read articles online of how to create a good CV!

Don’t ever let your disability hold you down, prove people wrong and excel!

 Disability and Skills Unit