Posted by on 12 December 2019

Honor Lovell (Apprentice Academic Support Administrator, University of Exeter Business School)

Becky Dyke (Business Administration Apprentice, Office of Vice-Chancellor & Senior Executive)

Honor and Becky took part in an apprentice Job shadowing day, where they each took an opportunity to experience each others place of work and job role.  This allowed them to find out how other staff work. It will enable participants to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of other roles and functions in other parts of the University.

What is Apprentice Job Shadowing?

Job shadowing means that one apprentice (the shadow) visits another (the host) to experience their work by observing them for an agreed time.  A 1/2 day time period provides a unique opportunity to find out how other staff work.  It enables participants to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of other roles and functions in other parts of the University.

What were the main things you learned from the experience?

Honor

“I have learned about what it is like to work in a different office at the University which is invaluable because you get the chance to learn about another apprentice role. Becky’s role is different in some ways since she is assisting the Personal Assistant (PA) to the Vice Chancellor (VC), so it is focused on diary management, bookings and making sure that everything runs smoothly. In my role, I support many different academics but not as in depth as Becky does. It is interesting to know that the skills that I have picked up from my previous and current roles can help me across the University but also that there is still lots that you can learn.

It also really helped me to solidify my knowledge about my current workplace because I have been in my current role for four months and it was interesting to see how much had sunk in. It is hard when you are new to remember everything, but I think it has boosted my confidence because I realised how much I have learnt in a short period of time. It has also given me the opportunity to review what it is that I would like to know or get involved in in my role and what I need to focus on to improve my understanding”.

Becky

“I was able to learn how other areas of the University operate, and the different roles that are required in the colleges compared to in the Professional Service areas of Northcote House. I was also able to see the University of Exeter Business School’s (UEBS) buildings and layout on the tour that Honor gave me which helped me understand the different areas of work that go in UEBS. I also found out about the difference in the level 3 apprenticeship course that Honor is doing compared to the one that I am undertaking, now that the curriculum has changed”.

What did you enjoy about it?

Honor

“Meeting Becky and also learning about a different part of the Uni and how her office works. It was really useful to learn about the diary management as I’m not involved in this in my current role. It was also really interesting to meet new staff members who are PA’s to senior staff because in the roles that I have been in have focused on supporting students and staff in general and not just one staff member in detail. I even met Sir Steve Smith (the VC) himself!  Becky was really helpful and answered any questions that I had and her knowledge of the role and the staff surrounding it was outstanding. It was really nice to meet Becky and her team because I definitely wouldn’t have done so without this experience”.

Becky

“I enjoyed the chance to see how different things are elsewhere in the University but also the similarities in using common tools such as T1 (our finance system) and booking travel. It was enlightening to see how a different office at the University is run, as Honor’s office has less people in it than the Executive Suite but they work more as a team rather than the individual PA duties that are required on the Executive Suite.  This is a different way of working which is required as part of a college administrative team which I hadn’t realised before.  Honor was also able to explain her previous role as a level 2 apprentice to me, when she was working in student support in Queen’s building, which seemed, again, like a completely different experience to working in Academic support as it was a lot busier and more reactionary to the needs of the Students as they arose.”

How can the lessons you learned assist in you in your current role?

Honor

“Becky had quite a few techniques that she uses to help her with her organisation of tasks. This includes keeping folders for her Exeter College work and also for her job role in general. She also keeps a word document list for events that are approaching and what is required in order for it to run smoothly. She also explained her outlook filing system which is really useful because that is something that I struggle to keep on top of. It was really good that we both have experience of using T1, because she showed me a folder that she keeps when making bookings which is something that I will aim to do when confirmation emails come through to make it easier to locate documents or files if necessary and to tidy up my inbox. “

Becky

“I learnt how Honor deals with organising her workload using post it notes and one note on her computer, which is a tool which may be helpful for me to use, particularly as you can take one note with you online, as opposed to having to carry a notepad around with you. She also gave me a good idea about how to keep track of stationery orders, which is something my line manager has asked me to do anyway and a system that I have since implemented in my own role.”

Was the experience what you expected?

Honor

“It was even better than expected because I got to meet so many people and learn about the types of tasks that Becky carries out in her role.  As an apprentice, it is really nice to learn about the other opportunities that are out there and what it is like for other apprentice’s in their day to day jobs.  I really appreciate Becky and her team’s time and it was really interesting to find out what other opportunities are out there.”

Becky

“The experience was a bit different to what I expected, mostly because I didn’t realise how much I had learnt since being at the University; by explaining my role to Honor I realised the amount of information I have picked up since starting 6 months ago, as well as the breadth of my role here. I partly did not know what to expect though, as I had not met Honor before, but she was very nice and accommodating.”

Has the shadowing identified any future areas for development?

Honor

“Diary management is a skill that I will consider looking into because it is a really useful skill to have.  I think other than that, I need to continue learning and finding techniques that work for me to improve my efficiency when completing work and to meet more apprentices who are in a similar role.

The shadowing opportunity was a really positive experience and I’m really grateful to have been involved as I have met a new apprentice, experienced what it is like to work in the VC office and I now understand the roles of another department in the University.”

Becky

“The shadowing has highlighted tasks that Honor performs and which I could grow in, in order to support my team better, such as in note-taking.  It has also given me ideas about publicly displaying useful information to colleagues, as well as techniques for monitoring my stationery ordering more effectively.”

Benefits of job shadowing

There are several benefits of job shadowing for both the shadow and the host.

Shadowing:

  • Broadens the knowledge and understanding of the participants’ roles and Departments/teams as well as broader issues in the HE sector
  • Increases the understanding of the wider institutional goals and objectives
  • Brings people together who might not normally have contact and provides networking opportunities
  • Allows the opportunity to compare and contrast standards and achievements in the shadow’s own Department with those elsewhere
  • Improves communication within the organisation
  • Provides the opportunity to observe good practise elsewhere
  • Breaks down barriers and myths about how others work
  • Allows the good practice to be brought back to the shadow’s current role
  • Encourages the realisation that other people have different ways of doing things and provides fresh ideas and insights about how to be more effective in their own work• Identifies areas for further personal development and widens experience, skills and future career opportunities
  • Provides learning opportunities for the host – explaining a particular task or activity can provoke analysis and improve communication and feedback skills
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