Bryony currently works in the work opportunities team at Cambridge University Hospitals.
Listen to Bryony and Lucy talk about their experiences of being an apprentice at CUH.
Within this team she works for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System as the Health and Care Academy Co-Ordinator meaning that she works with other Trusts from across the region.
As part of the work opportunities team she works with local schools, colleges and organisations to widen participation and offer various opportunities promoting the NHS and CUH as a potential career choice for young people.
In January 2020, Bryony undertook a Level 2 Business Administration Apprenticeship with the employee relations team. Since completing that apprenticeship, she has gained permanent employment and enrolled in a Level 4 Improvement Practitioner Apprenticeship which she started in early January. Both of these apprenticeships are for administrative type roles.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship? / What appealed to you about doing an apprenticeship?
Prior to completing her Business Administration Level 2 Apprenticeship, Bryony studied Sociology for two years at university at undergraduate level. After completing two years, she found university was not the right option for her as she found it difficult to study for long hours of the day, and felt that she didn’t get the hands on support that she would have liked. University was the main option presented to her when she was doing her A-Levels, so she assumed that was the route she was meant to take. She took the decision to leave after completing her exams and was left unsure of her future.
During Bryony’s second year at university, her mother had recently started a new job at Addenbrooke’s in outpatients. Bryony says that she always had the idea of helping others as a career, and had taken Health and Social Care as one of her A-Levels. Working at a hospital was something she didn’t think she was capable of doing, as she had no idea of the range of roles there are within the NHS. She was surprised to find that there truly is something for everybody! She applied and was invited for several departments that were offering apprenticeships.
Doing an apprenticeship appealed to me as I had been in education full-time for a long time, and I did not feel prepared for the world of work. I wanted a position where I would be supported and guided through the process. The Employee Relations Team were very supportive, and I had fantastic management who gave me confidence in my abilities. As a result, I was awarded with the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year for the East of England 2021!
What does a typical day look like in your role?
Bryony says that a typical day in her role is ever evolving as she is constantly learning. Due to Covid, she is primarily working from home. The first thing she does is check her emails and the queries that have come through, from both colleagues and students. As part of her role, she organises speakers for events they are running, which she says takes a lot of behind the scenes work to ensure it runs smoothly. She makes sure the agendas are set up, that students have received links and the speakers are prepared for the event. This can also involve interviewing other members of staff from across the region about their roles.
Bryony also attends team meetings, and meets with her manager regularly to catch-up and discuss what needs to be finalised. Another aspect of her role is social media, designing posters and communicating with local schools and colleges about the events they are holding. There are also basic administrative tasks which she completes, such as updating spreadsheets and maintaining databases.
What do you enjoy about your role?
Bryony’s favourite part of her role is being able to help other students in exploring and choosing careers, especially as she says that she was clueless on her choices at that age. She also really enjoys meeting staff from other Trusts, and says it has opened her eyes to what other roles are really like. Bryony gets to regularly speak to doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, administrators, managers, and more! She says that she works with amazing colleagues, who are very supportive and eager to help other students from the area.
What sorts of things do you do for the 20% off the job learning aspect of your apprenticeship?
Bryony says that there are many activities that you can do that contribute to the 20% off the job learning and as you learn the job and the new tasks and skills involved with them, off the job learning tends to come naturally. Some examples of what she did that contributed to her previous apprenticeship, and current one are:
- Attending lessons and webinars, either as part of college or work.
- Completing any required training set by the Trust.
- Shadowing – Bryony shadowed the Chair of CUH when she started in 2020, and other colleagues in meetings.
- Study Days – this is work assigned by college, such as coursework that needs to be completed. This involves
researching, reading and planning.
- 1:1s and Catch-ups, including mentoring.
Does this involve attending college or is it all completed at work?
When Bryony started her first apprenticeship, she should have had classes with other apprentices and meetings with her assessor in the workplace. However, due to Covid, these had to be postponed and as a result, all of her college work was completed whilst she was either in the office or working from home. Ultimately, she found this to be beneficial and now prefers attending classes and completing her work whilst at home, as she says it allows for more flexibility. In her first apprenticeship, she met with her assessor remotely via Teams or through phone calls and now, for her Level 4 apprenticeship, this is the same.
What are your future intentions?
Bryony’s future intentions are to stay within the NHS, and to stay until she retires! She feels that the opportunities that have been presented to her mean that she can progress within the organisation and can move into many different roles that allow her to work with a range of people. She thinks she has found a way to have an excellent career, and would like to go into higher banded roles to then be able to complete a degree apprenticeship. Bryony says that once she qualifies as an Improvement Practitioner, this opens up the possibilities of roles she could go into.
What advice would you give to others who may be looking to take on an apprenticeship?
Do your research, take a look at the opportunities that are open to you and take advantage of them. Even if you feel you would be out of your depth, apply and have a go – you will get such good experience by trying. Doing an apprenticeship provides excellent benefits, you get paid to learn, build relationships with your colleagues, get to know your area and become an expert and ultimately, get a qualification!
Other advice I would give is do not be afraid to ask questions. You are there to learn from the absolute beginning as an entry level apprentice and there are no expectations for you to know how to do the job straight away. No question is a silly question!
Additionally, I have found it essential to keep note of what you are doing in your job. This will really help with evidencing your work. Anything new you learn, or what you have done throughout the day, make a note of it. This will give you something to look back at and see how you have progressed, and make college work so much easier to complete.