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Gina and Indy Shadow each other for the day - Apprenticeships

Posted by on 03 January 2020

Georgina Morris (Apprentice Technician, Exeter Sequencing Service) and Indy Carpenter (Administration assistant, Estate Services)

Two of our apprentices, Gina and Indy, took part in a job shadowing day during National Apprenticeship Week at the University so they could meet an apprentice from another team and find out what their apprenticeship is like.

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 period of 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.

This is what our apprentices said about their experience:


The things I learnt from my shadowing experience were that not all apprentices start off on the same level. Indy started with a level 2 course, and I believed that the minimum level was a level 3. I now realise that there are apprenticeships from level 2 to level 7 in a wide variety of apprenticeships programmes.

I also learnt that there are different experience levels between apprentices, some have come straight from education (School or college), and others have previous work experience.

The work that I do in the sequencing service labs appears to be more advanced than what some other apprentices do. I also do more admin work than I had realised as a lot of what Indy does is quite similar to what I do.

I enjoyed the job shadow day and experiencing what another apprentice does on a day to day basis.

The shadowing experience was beneficial to me as I learnt some shortcuts on the programs that use such as Outlook and Excel that I wasn’t aware of before. This will help me when undertaking my day to day tasks.

The experience was not quite as I had expected it would be. I expected Indy would be doing most of what she already does as part of her apprenticeship, such as booking in visitors, answering phones etc. Although, I had also expected there may be a greater variety of work for administration apprentices such as some finance – maybe this is something that will expand as Indy progresses through her level 3 and is given other responsibilities by her team.

A lot of what Indy does is quite similar to some of the tasks that I do. She participated in an IT course to familiarise with the different programs that she uses. I feel that I would have benefited greatly with some IT help as a lot of my work and college work is computer based. I was last in education 12 years ago and I was not very confident using basic IT programs, when during previous work experience I used in-house software.


During National Apprenticeship Week, I completed a day’s job shadowing with another Apprentice from the University of Exeter. I got the chance to spend half a day in the Geoffrey Pope Building, shadowing an Apprentice Technician. She then got the opportunity to come and shadow my role as an Administrative Assistant Apprentice within the Estate Services department.

We began our morning in Geoffrey Pope by walking around the different labs, this is where I got to learn about the day to day tasks that are taken out by both research technicians and lab technicians. I was also introduced to the manager and other workers within that department. After this, we went into one of the labs and I was shown how to set up the DNA machines for cleaning by measuring out the specific liquids that needed to be inserted into each compartment for the clean.

We spent the rest of the morning taking out some routine health and safety tests/checks within the lab to make sure everything was up to date and followed the specified guidelines. This was interesting to observe because it made me realise how many potential dangers there are in her workplace and the things that she consistently has to be aware of. I was also made aware of the safety equipment that needs to be worn at all times when in the lab. I believe that it was very beneficial that I got the chance to understand what it was like to work as part of a college, as opposed to a professional services department, as this was a completely different environment for me and extremely out of my comfort zone.

With regards to the second half of the day in which I was being shadowed, I really enjoyed getting the chance to talk about my job role and the types of things that I do day-to-day. I gave Gina a tour of the Streatham Farm/Barn building and spoke about the different aspects and areas of our department and the role that I play within it.

I do feel as though being given the chance to do something like this was a great opportunity to make all apprentices aware of the huge range of apprenticeships that are available to us. I personally had no idea that an apprenticeship of this nature existed so I feel as though this was a real eye opener. I believe that it helped me to realise that there are so many routes that I can go down to further develop my skills and qualifications in the future. It also made me realise how happy I am within my current job role at this point in time and that a job of this nature is not something that I feel would be of interest to me.

All in all, I feel that the day was full of positives and I definitely took a lot away from the experience.

Benefits of job shadowing

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


  • 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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