Case Study

REBECCA LUCK

Rebecca Luck is an HR Administrator at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine. Prior to that she was an apprentice at Domino Printing Sciences, in Cambridge.

What apprenticeship have you completed?

I completed a Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship at Domino Printing Sciences. This involved being assigned a tutor to support my college learning, and who visited me at work.

Most of my assignments involved learning some theory, which I could then demonstrate through the work and projects I was doing for my employer. I was given two years to complete my course work, which I completed early.

Why did you decide to apply for an apprenticeship?

My initial reason for finding an apprenticeship opportunity was because I didn’t know where I wanted my career to go and didn’t want to commit myself to studying something that I wouldn’t later use in my career.

In my opinion, going to university would have meant that I was going to commit a lot of money to something I wasn’t certain that I wanted to do. I had just completed GCSE’s and A-levels and wasn’t convinced that I wanted to jump straight into a university degree full-time. An apprenticeship also appealed because it gave me an opportunity to learn new skills, earn a salary and set me up to getting a job in my chosen specialism.

Why did you choose the company you trained and worked at?

I had support from a careers advisor at my school, who had heard that a local firm (Domino Printing Sciences) had just started recruiting for an apprentice scheme. I hadn’t considered many other organisations at this point and I wanted to see how the recruitment process went before I began my search again.

When looking for what would be a good apprenticeship I was a bit uncertain, however the one I applied for revealed that I would have support from a mentor as well as a line manager, and soft skills training to help me integrate into the work place. This reassured me that this organisation valued their employees and apprentices.

As I was part of the first cohort of apprentices there was some flexibility around my programme, including the departments that I could join and the qualifications that I could study. This also appealed, as I was able to get some exposure to HR as I thought this would be a career path that I would like to go down.

Were you encouraged to consider an apprenticeship by anyone and did you receive any help in making your application? 

There weren’t many teachers in my sixth form who were aware of alternative pathways to university and therefore the support was limited. I made my plans clear to the college and I was then fortunate enough to be put in contact with a careers advisor that supported the school. She was able to help me channel my thoughts to focus on where I wanted my career to go.

Once I had a plan of what I wanted, I went to a Form the Future careers event where I got to talk to potential employers about their opportunities and learn a bit more about working for a company. This event helped me to understand what I wanted from my new job and employer.

After this event, my careers advisor also put me in touch with Domino and even arranged for some of their HR team to visit the college to discuss the opportunities with me.

I was never discouraged from doing an apprenticeship by anyone, although accessing the support wasn’t easy. Apprenticeship opportunities and networks like Form the Future weren’t always publicised in colleges at the time.

What was the process of obtaining an apprenticeship?

The process was quite straight forward. I applied online by submitting my CV and answering a few questions. From my experience of recruiting apprentices, it is always useful to submit a cover letter even if they don’t ask for one. This gives you an opportunity to showcase yourself, your reasons for doing an apprenticeship and why you want to join that organisation. This can really make your application stand out especially if they don’t ask for a cover letter.

My interview process consisted of an assessment day, which is quite standard for apprenticeship interviews. They get all the successful applicants from the initial screening together for a day event. For me this event involved a number of interviews from people around the business that I would later be working for, a tour of the site, and some team building activities.

On days like this it is easy to see the people you are up against and for me there were a few people that I was interviewing against for the role I was later offered. I would recommend to those going through the interview process to be yourself. The interviewers also like to know that you have interests and extra-curricular activities outside of study or work.

Can you describe a typical day in your apprenticeship?

I was completely integrated into the HR team and later the UK Channel Marketing team. My day-to-day activities varied depending on the demands on the team I was working with.

I was given exposure to virtually all the work that the team were involved in – not just the filing or boring tasks because I was an apprentice. I often went off-site to careers fairs and HR forums as well as doing the new starter inductions and interviews. While in the marketing team I even got to visit customers and join the sales team on the road. I was invited to many meetings across the UK so that I could understand what was happening in all areas of the business.

My working week was split into four days working with my team on projects and daily tasks, and one day studying for college. I was given the flexibility to study as I saw best, meaning I could choose the day I would prefer to study (even split it across two half days on occasion) and whether I studied at work, at home or a mixture.

What have you got from your apprenticeship that you want to share with otherswho might be considering one?

I have got a lot from my time as an apprentice. I was very fortunate to join some amazing teams that got me involved in as much of their work as they could. This was really beneficial to help me decide where I wanted my career to go and I would really recommend this route to someone not sure which direction they want their career to go in. As a bonus I was even getting qualified and paid to find out!

There are many opportunities out there so even if you have a plan there is a great chance that there is an opportunity for you that will provide you with practical experience to help support your studies. I agreed to become an Apprentice Ambassador because I wanted to share my experience with others to inspire people to consider doing apprenticeship and also companies to set up apprentice schemes. I also want to share my learning to support others during their apprenticeships so they can get the most out of theirs.

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