Izzy Hall, 23
University of Keele
MSc Technical Leadership (Biomedical Science)
"Undertaking an apprenticeship while working is a fantastic opportunity to develop your career and steer it towards your interests and passions. I was presented with the opportunity of applying for a Masters level apprenticeship, this was a perfect opportunity for me as it allowed me to further my academic career whilst gaining the practical experience that I was looking for."
As I was approaching the end of my studies at the University of Edinburgh, I wanted to gain practical experience in industry, and therefore applied for what is now my current role at Fera. Nonetheless, I still wanted to develop my academic career and, following a conversation with my line manager, I was presented with the opportunity of applying for a Masters level apprenticeship. This was a perfect opportunity for me as it allowed me to further my academic career whilst gaining the practical experience that I was looking for.
I started my apprenticeship in September 2022, only two months after starting to work at Fera with great support from my line manager and staff at the University of Keele.
I heard about the possibility of embarking on this apprenticeship during a 1:1 meeting with my line manager, who prompted me to get in touch with the organisers of courses that I was interested in.
At this stage in my apprenticeship, I have completed one learning module which involved attending online lectures as well as in-person sessions at the University of Keele. The module also involved completing some assignments that were aimed at integrating the theoretical knowledge learned to the practical work setting at Fera. The apprenticeship lasts approximately 2 years, and it entails completing learning modules and a 2-week residential in the first year, while in the second year I will be working on a research project.
First and foremost, this apprenticeship helped me master my time-management skills, as it required balancing tasks at work with studying. Furthermore, it helped me gain insight into aspects of working in industry that I was not so familiar with. For instance, as a junior member at Fera, I did not have extensive experience in the leadership and managerial elements of working on projects. The Leading Teams module taught me how leadership and management theories can be applied in the work setting to organise teams and projects, encouraging innovation and development.
Truthfully speaking, undertaking this apprenticeship proved more difficult than I expected. As a new starter I was not yet completely comfortable in the workplace, still being trained and trying to get settled in a new environment. When I started the apprenticeship, things got even more challenging as I struggled to find the time that I needed to dedicate to my studies. However, thanks to the incredible support of my team and managers, I was able to find a new routine that allowed me to balance work with studying.
Overcoming this challenge made me confident that I can be resilient and find the motivation to persevere and keep my head above the water.
Undertaking an apprenticeship while working is a fantastic opportunity to develop your career and steer it towards your interests and passions. However, it can be very challenging as it requires finding time to dedicate to your studies both at work and in your personal life.
Working in an environment that promotes employee development and having support from family and friends has proved essential for me to get through some difficult times.
My advice is to carefully consider whether you are ready to sacrifice some of your free time to study and whether you have a support system in place and people you can talk to at work when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
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