Emily is an Analytical Chemist Apprentice with Green Biologics Ltd, based at Milton Park near Didcot. She started her two year Level 3 Apprenticeship in September 2016. Emily did GCSEs at Wycombe High School and then attended Henley College for her A Levels, achieving 3 A*s in Maths, Biology and Chemistry.
Why did you choose to do an Apprenticeship?
I had enough stress preparing for my A Levels so I did not want to travel around the country inspecting universities and fretting about conditional offers. I decided university wasn’t for me but I still wanted to learn. I found this opportunity on the Apprenticeships website and was amazed at what a great fit it was for me.
How did you find out about your Apprenticeship?
I was looking for jobs for after I finished my A-levels and the careers adviser at college suggested looking for an Apprenticeship. I looked in the Science and Mathematics section of the Apprenticeship website and found one which looked absolutely perfect. It suited my interests in Chemistry and after looking into the company I found out it produces products that are alternatives to petroleum, which is an issue I am passionate about.
What have you gained from your Apprenticeship?
Although I have not been an Apprentice for long, I have gained an awful lot of skills. I can use equipment which our student interns have not come across at university. I have had to improve my time management to get everything done in for the day in the lab, as well as to hand in my assignments on time. I am getting used to working under pressure to get the results of the samples for when they are needed. Being around people from other labs has given me the opportunity to learn about microbiology and genetic manipulation, which I find fascinating. I am always asking questions, and I hope I don’t stop for the whole of the two year Apprenticeship.
What do you plan to do next?
I am not entirely sure, as I still feel as if I have just left school. I plan to stay in the field of Chemistry but possibly in a different area to experience a different lab environment. If I am very lucky, perhaps a company will pay for a university education in Chemistry.
How will your Apprenticeship help you achieve this?
My Apprenticeship will give me some recognisable qualifications, including a level 3 BTEC and a LATA, as well as valuable experience to put on my CV. I am also gaining contacts in the scientific sector, which will be very useful to network when finding a new job in the future.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing an Apprenticeship?
Spend a few days on each application and add in as much relevant information as possible. The interview will probably be with somebody from the company, as well as a tutor, so be prepared for more than one person. You’ll probably be working with people who have degrees, and sometimes PhDs, but don’t be intimidated, they are probably all very lovely people who will want to help you succeed. Go on as many training courses as possible. You often have funding from the company and the tutors, so if only a few are being offered to you, do your own research into courses that interest you. Be prepared to be dropped straight into hands-on work. You will make mistakes at first, but this is expected of you, and as long as you take everything in your stride, it will be okay.
What advice would you give an employer who is considering employing an Apprentice?
Understand their level of knowledge. If they have only done GCSEs, don’t expect them to be as skilled as your employees with degrees. Have a good relationship with the education company, and allow the Apprentice time to complete their assignments. Treat the Apprentice as you would any other employee.
How do you feel about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador?
I’m a bit nervous about having to stand and talk in front of a group of people. However this will help with my BTEC so I look forward to improving on this. I am excited to join this community and meet other young people and learn about their industries. I hope to visit my old school and college and inform the students that a university education is not a necessity (and really it’s far too much stress). I would also like to encourage more girls to get into STEM.