How I got my Apprenticeship by Rebecca Eastwood, The Cooper School

Rebecca Eastwood, 18, is in Year 13 at The Cooper School in Bicester. Like many other students, Rebecca is revising hard for her A Levels and looking forward to a well-earned break once her exams are over. Rebecca has an extra reason to celebrate this summer - she will be starting an exciting career with the 8th largest employer in the world – the National Health Service.


Rebecca has secured a Level 3 HR Business Apprenticeship with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which she will start in September.

Rebecca has always known that she didn’t want to go to university but beyond that has always made sure to keep her options open. When choosing her A Levels, she opted for three very different subjects - psychology, art and business – knowing that she could choose to go down any one of those routes.

During her time in the 6th form, Rebecca found that she was leaning towards business and decided that was the direction that she wanted her career to go. She started researching business Apprenticeships and reading the descriptions of the roles to help her work out what each one involved and what sort of Apprenticeship would suit her interests. She decided that Business Administration or Human Resources would be the areas that she would like to work in.

Rebecca had always imagined that working in a business role would see her working in a business, but through her research, she discovered that many different types of organisation offer Business Admin Apprenticeships.

She applied for an Apprenticeship with Thames Valley Police, having seen the opportunity on Facebook and decided to give it a go. Initially she was disappointed when she didn’t get an interview but viewed the experience as good practice and felt that she learnt from it about what to put in an Apprenticeship application.

Rebecca heard about an NHS Apprenticeship open event at the John Radcliffe Hospital showcasing all the Apprenticeships on offer with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, from business to engineering. Rebecca knew a bit about the NHS as her mum works for them but hadn’t considered a career with the NHS herself. Always keen to keep her options open and investigate opportunities, Rebecca decided to go along to the open event to find out more about their Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeships.

Rebecca says: “I loved the people and they made it sound really interesting. I met the head nurse at the JR and the lady in charge of the HR team. The HR Business Apprenticeship sounded like a challenge, not too easy, so I knew that I wouldn’t get bored! Someone else is already doing an Apprenticeship in that team and is doing really well, so it sounded like an exciting opportunity.”

Rebecca decided to apply for the Apprenticeship and was delighted to be selected for an interview. There were 3 processes involved in the selection process – both a formal and informal interview and a computer based assessment. Rebecca did lots of research in the run up to her interview, researching all the different departments and finding out all about the services provided by the NHS. OUH have lots of top interview tips on their website and Rebecca followed these to help her prepare.

Following the interview, she received an email inviting her back to meet the team and complete lots of forms.

Rebecca says: “It wasn’t easy, you have to work hard to get an Apprenticeship! There are loads of documents to fill in. The interview was fine though, I did lots of preparation and they didn’t ask me anything I wasn’t expecting!”

Rebecca was delighted when she was offered the Apprenticeship and pleased to find out that OUH were flexible about her start date. She asked if she could start in September to give her some well-deserved down time and they agreed. To help Rebecca prepare for starting her Apprenticeship, OUH have invited her to come in for a couple of days during the summer to spend some time with the team and get familiar with her workplace to help her feel welcome and confident about starting.

Rebecca says: “I am excited about starting my Apprenticeship. I will be joining a big organisation with lots of future opportunities. I know it was the right choice for me.”

Rebecca’s top tips:

  • Keep your options open and don’t narrow down your choices
  • Work out what your skills and interests are and find out what Apprenticeships there are that match up with them
  • Do lots of research into different types of Apprenticeships to find the right one for you, read job descriptions to find out the detail of each role
  • Be broad in what you are searching for and looking at, there might be something out there you don’t know about yet!
  • Give things a chance, consider jobs and organisations you hadn’t thought about working in before
  • Go along to open days, even if you’re not sure you want to work there -  you might not know until you visit and meet the people!
  • Be positive and learn from the experience of applying – even if you don’t get an interview, you will learn from it and feel better prepared for the next application

Mark Lambert, Post 16 Enrichment Coordinator, says: “Apprenticeships are becoming a real pathway for some of our A Level students who decide not to go to university and as a sixth form we invest considerable time and effort raising awareness and these opportunities for our students. Completing A Levels is not easy, but past students tell us they actually prefer to have their minds stimulated after such prolonged period of studying and Apprenticeships offer that stimulation and countless opportunities to develop. I know Rebecca will be challenged come September but with the NHS as her employer, I am confident she will be supported and encouraged throughout. For us, as a post 16 centre, this is precisely what we want for our bright confident and energetic young people. Really pleased to have supported Rebecca in her new role. However to be honest, she has made this happen herself. That resilience and initiative will serve her well as she begins the next chapter in her life, she has been a great student with us."