My First Year as an Analytical Scientist Degree Apprentice at AstraZeneca

Hi, my name is Bethany Richards and I am a first year Level 6 Degree Scientist Apprentice at AstraZeneca. I am studying a BSc in Chemical Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University, which is a four year part time course. This means that I attend work as an Analytical Scientist for four days a week and take a study day one day a week to complete the distance learning course.

What made you apply for an apprenticeship?

During Sixth-Form, I noticed I had a passion for science and I wanted to start my career within the scientific research field. However, I was only aware of one route to get there – A levels then University. I had no knowledge of the scientific apprenticeships available to me in order to fast-track my journey to becoming a scientist. I felt that I had outgrown the school environment and I was not willing to continue, so I found an apprenticeship in Applied Science and left school in Year-12.

Why did you apply to AstraZeneca?

After completing my Level 3 Apprenticeship in Applied Science, I was working in the Material Science Industry and I wanted to complete a degree in Chemistry. However, my job role did not satisfy this. I began researching ways to study at university whilst also working. I found the Degree Apprenticeship position at AstraZeneca and applied immediately. I knew that it was a great opportunity as I had friends who worked at the company and I’ve heard great things.

Expectations vs Reality    

I already had an awareness of the intensity of having to work full-time and study part-time simultaneously and I expected this to be a huge step up from my Level 3 apprenticeship. However, having gone through a year already, this isn’t the case. The workload is extremely fair and I have not once felt overwhelmed.

What have you found beneficial from doing an apprenticeship programme at AZ?

To start with, the process from applying, getting an interview, and starting on my first day was organised which made a nerve-racking experience a lot easier. The dedicated Apprenticeship Team internal to AZ have helped me settle in by running workshops, not only for training, but for social activities. I learn new things everyday and I have been astonished by the number of skills I’ve been able to develop already, such as conducting HPLC analysis!

How has COVID-19 impacted your experience?

Prior to starting at AZ, I had to move out of my family home in Cambridge to live on my own in Manchester – with COVID restrictions, this has been quite difficult as it hasn’t allowed me to attend the usual social events run by AZ in order to build relationships. However, I’m looking forward to being able to attend these when things are back to normal!

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