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A Day in the Life of an End-Point Assessor: Tracey Cousins

Hello! My name is Tracey and I’m an Associate Assessor for AIM Assessment on the Advertising and Media Executive (AME) standard. For more than 18 years I have worked for creative agencies and over the past year and a half, I’ve been working with AIM in this freelance role. I drink a lot of tea and coffee, secretly love watching some trashy TV programmes along with spending too much time on Twitter checking what’s trending. I’m also a mum to my 4-year-old daughter. As a freelancer, no two days are the same for me, but here’s a flavour of what I would do.

6.50 AM: I tell myself to get up and wait for the inevitable shout of, “Mummy!” from my daughter which usually happens within 10 minutes of my alarm going off. Both of us get ready as my husband arrives back home from his morning run. We head downstairs and check that everything is packed for nursery, then all three of us head out. We drop our daughter off and my husband and I carry on to one of our local coffee shops. This has become our new routine during the pandemic, a way to guarantee some fresh air and it helps to get in the right mindset for work. 
8.45 AM: After breakfast, and a cursory check of Twitter and BBC News, I head to my workspace and log on. As I have an assessment this morning, I start to gather my paperwork – mark sheets, my script, the pre-prepared questions and notebook – and double-check my calendar for the assessment details. 
I’ll re-read through the mark sheets and questions I have prepared and have another flick through the project presentation that the apprentice has submitted so that the topics we are going to talk about today are fresh in mind.
9.30 AM: Once I am set up for the assessment, I check my emails to see if there are any other actions required that day. I also have a quick read of daily newsletters from WARC or The Drum to see what’s happening in the advertising industry to see if there are any articles of interest, marking them to read later if so.

9.55 AM: A pot of coffee is made, and a glass of water is on my desk. The assessment components for the Advertising and Media Executive standard are three hours long, meaning the assessment meeting can last up to four hours - so I make sure that I have refreshments to hand! I log on and wait for the apprentice to join.
Rather than diving straight into the assessment, I try to set the tone for the meeting first and give the apprentice a chance to settle into it as I have no doubt, they are nervous. So, after introductions, I run through the order of the day, compulsory technical checks and a chance for questions, then we start the assessment. 
12.15 PM: Two components of the assessment are complete – the project presentation and the practical observation. After this, I usually like to take a break to give both the apprentice and me a chance to refresh ahead of the professional discussion. It also gives us both a chance to refill our mugs with some much-needed tea!
The next component is one of my favourites – the professional discussion. This is a great opportunity for the apprentice to showcase their knowledge and draw upon examples from their work and the industry. I like to delve into questions and try and get as much out of answers as possible – and very often, I find myself learning something too!
1.45 PM: The assessment is complete. I take a lunch break to refuel and get some time away from my desk. Of late, my husband has been baking bread (don’t tell him, but he’s getting pretty good) and as there is some leftover, I decide on a quick and easy lunch of scrambled eggs on toast. Simple but tasty! I’ll usually check social media and news at lunch to see what’s been happening.
2.30 PM: Time to start marking the assessment while it’s fresh in my mind! I tend to keep to the same order, starting by going back to the project presentation. I have made notes throughout the assessment and marked which criteria were demonstrated as we went along. But I also like to re-listen to the assessment to make sure that I have captured everything, or to double-check a comment or answer. It’s a long process and I know I won’t finish it today, but if I can get at least one component marked, I’ll be happy. 
5 PM: It’s time to stop work on the assessment. I’ll re-read what I have marked tomorrow and complete the rest of the marking, then share with AIM. I then go back to any other emails that need attention or read any of the articles I marked to follow up.
5.40 PM: I head out to pick up my daughter from nursery. It hasn’t been long since I dropped her off, but I love seeing her face again as she comes out of nursery, usually armed with reams of drawings and paintings that she’s completed that day.
It’s been a good day today. The assessment went to plan, and I have made a good start on the marking. Carrying out assessments always gives me a sense of accomplishment and having done something worthwhile. I know the role of an Advertising and Media Executive very well having worked in agency account management departments for many years; I find listening to the apprentices share their experiences and knowledge incredibly interesting as I can relate to what they have been doing, but I also get to see other ways of working, hear new opinions and gain insight into the next generation of advertisers.

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