Posted by on 16 November 2017

Amber Bassett
Apprentice Academic Support Administrator (Business School) at the University of Exeter
Studying with Exeter College

My name is Amber Bassett and I am doing a Level 2 Business Administration Apprenticeship in the Business School at the University of Exeter, as an Apprentice Academic Support Administrator.

Before starting to work at the University I had just finished my A-Levels and as all of my friends went off to University, I felt it just wasn’t for me so I got a quick job to pay my way until I could find something I really wanted to do. I was constantly checking online for new jobs in hope that something of my interest would appear and I noticed the large amounts of Apprenticeships being advertised on all the sites. After doing more research into all the benefits of them, I decided I would go in search of an Apprenticeship.

I know of many friends and family friends who work at the University so I was intrigued to see if they had any positions open and that’s when I found the Apprenticeship – I knew straight away I wanted to apply. I thought an Apprenticeship would be the best idea for me because you get to learn lots of new skills, gain valuable experience (unlike many people my age), get a qualification and earn money at the same time to support myself.

The application process was very easy to follow and I was delighted when I got notified that I had been selected for interview. I had worked for 2 years on a reception desk at a Caravan Park whilst studying my A Levels, so I knew that my admin experience was going to help me get through the interviews. The panel were made up of people I would be working with in my office and although I was nervous, they made me feel really relaxed so I could talk about all the things I had to offer the job. I was so excited when I got the call just hours later to say I had got it.

When I started, I was obviously very nervous and due to the fast-paced working environment of the University, I was worried it may be very overwhelming to start with but my colleagues made me feel so comfortable and really helped me throughout training me and helping me settle in at a good pace.

In a typical week I can complete many jobs such as; booking travel or accommodation for academics, setting up meetings with visitors, organising seminars with internal and external speakers/delegates, delivering mail to academics offices, covering an hour on the Business School’s reception (which has really helped with my confidence and built upon my knowledge around the School), preparing academic documents/photocopying and printing, marking ‘Multiple Choice Question’ exams for academics and booking out rooms for events. The levels of support me and my team offer can range from little jobs to very important jobs which is why it is never boring.

I was contacted by Exeter College very soon after I started the apprenticeship to set up a contact with my skills officer, Maggie, who would come and visit me regularly every 6-8 weeks to see how I was getting on and set me tasks of written work and evidence based tasks. The work can seem long and you always have to be managing what daily jobs you can use as evidence but Maggie was so helpful and if I knew I couldn’t meet a deadline, I could just let her know the reasons and she would extend the deadline for me.

I found it quite easy to stay on top of work because I joined in the summer where I had some more free time at work to focus on my college work and get it done before the busy periods. My colleagues in my office were also incredibly helpful because they understood I was being set work and never overloaded me with jobs when I was trying to complete them.

I then started with Exeter College in September alongside many other apprentices in the area from different businesses. It was nice to meet other apprentices and see what they do and where they would like to progress to in the future. I was released from work every Tuesday to attend college and the work there was very simple and easy to handle and I never had a problem trying to balance everything.

Your skills officer is great for helping you balance out work and review how you are getting on with your College tutor and work team and they can also be there to help you with any problems you may be having at college or at work.

I am really enjoying working at the University. My team are incredibly supportive and very understanding with workload. As an apprentice you tend to get given little jobs from everyone in the team which sometimes means you can get a little overwhelmed but my colleagues are so great because they always remind me that I am more than welcome to pass jobs back or shout if I don’t have time.

The University gives you lots of opportunities for further staff training and development. For example, I put myself forward for some courses surrounding ‘Organising my Time’ and ‘Building Relationships that Work: Influencing and Assertiveness Skills’. These are brilliant for helping me in my current job and also helpful for the future and look great on a CV!

My advice for future apprentices would be to always ask for help when you may need it. You are not expected to know everything and be able to carry out all the jobs straight away. You are there to learn and that’s entirely what the apprenticeship is for. All colleagues, within your team and other surrounding teams, are incredibly supportive and always helping you out and giving advice and I’ve really learnt that there’s no such thing as a silly question. Learning new things, practicing and having a go is what an apprenticeship is all about and that’s why it’s so much fun.

It was a massive help for me that two members of my team had been in the Apprentice position before me so they knew exactly what it felt like to be me and gave me a good idea of where I could be in a few years’ time like them.

Working at the University has opened my mind up to the many career choices and paths that I could take and it is a great place to inspire you to think about your future.

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