In 2015 I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Psychology with the assumption that I would find a career path straight away, like many of my friends, and I would be set for the foreseeable. However, it did not quite work out the way I had hoped or expected. This was difficult for myself to deal with as I watched friends succeed and achieve goals within their chosen area whilst I had not yet found my fit. It was not until I decided to start afresh and began looking for a new career that I considered applying for an apprenticeship. When I left sixth form, apprenticeships were not something which were particularly discussed, the focus was on UCAS and submitting our applications to chosen Universities rather than joining an apprenticeship scheme.
I came across the Business Admin Apprenticeship role whilst looking through the AstraZeneca job board. Due to the lack of discussion and understanding around apprenticeships prior to my application for Business Admin Apprentice I was not even sure if I would be a viable candidate. I read the job description and the duties of the role appealed to me and the chance to work for a leading Biopharmaceutical company was an opportunity that I could not pass up. I applied for the role thinking that this potentially will be the start of something great and it could be an amazing opportunity to develop and grow my skill set.
Following on from my online application I was invited to the Virtual Assessment day. This required some prerequisite work in the form of a presentation, further information on how to be successful during the interview, what to expect, and guidance on how to prepare. The assessment day itself was very relaxed, informative, and enjoyable with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and learn more about AstraZeneca and their work culture. At the end of the day there was a chance to talk to current AstraZeneca apprentices without having the senior interviewers present. During the interview it really hit home what an amazing company AstraZeneca would be to work for as it was really eye opening to hear various employees experience and passion for AstraZeneca.
A few days later I was called and offered the role as Business Admin Apprentice, this was in May and the apprenticeship was starting in September. In the run up to September there were virtual events held by current apprentices where we were able to get to know some of the new apprentices before we started. It gave us the opportunity to ask the current apprentices questions, gather advice and gain their perspective on the experience and how to make the most of the apprenticeship. Virtual calls were also arranged with the Apprentice Team and our new managers, which parents/relatives were able to attend to hear about AstraZeneca. We could speak to our managers on a one-to-one basis to learn more about the role and the of team we would be joining. This was extremely valuable to have as it gave us a chance to build a relationship with our managers, understand the plans which they had for us and to learn more about AstraZeneca.
The onboarding process with AstraZeneca was very straightforward as you are fully supported by the recruitment team who are there to assist and guide you. Joining such a well-respected and global operation has the potential to be daunting but the virtual social events organised by current apprentices and the recruitment team, along with all the information provided by the Apprenticeship team prepares you for the adventure which you are about to commence.
Since joining AstraZeneca as a Business Admin Apprentice in September I have been welcomed by my team with each one of them helping and contributing to my development in these first few months. I have spent time with each member to learn more about the role they play within the UK Operations Training Department which has enabled me to see how my role will help to positively impact their processes and ways of working. I have never felt like an ‘apprentice’ as I have a busy work load, I am making positive contributions to the team, my opinion and ideas are taken on board and I am able to add value in meetings. Within my role as Business Admin Apprentice I am tasked with managing the various processes within the team with the mission in making them more streamlined. I support team members with their processes and aide them with problem solving exercises to unearth why a process is not running quite as smoothly as it once was.
There are events run by AZInspire which gives you the chance to meet new joiners to AstraZeneca. While we have been working virtually, online quizzes that were once face-to-face have now become the norm. Other ERGs also run events to get new joiners involved and network internally. We have 3 monthly check ins with the other Apprentices and a UK Apprentice Programme Partner, Tracey, who has been there to support us since the onboarding process. In these meetings you’re able to speak freely, discuss what you have been working on, if you have any worries or concerns and also speak to the other Apprentices to find out how they are getting on.
I have monthly meetings with my college mentor whereby we are able to discuss my progress with the college work, how I am finding the workload, and again, if there is anything which is concerning me or I want to discuss. I receive support from my line manager regarding my college work as we are able to talk through the projects and discuss them to ensure I have enough time to meet the deadline.
There is so much support from current and new apprentices, all the onboarding team, your manager and team and from your college mentor. Everyone wants you to be the best you can possibly be and collectively they are able to give you all the tools to make sure we succeed. However, in the end it is down to us as apprentices to carry forward the skills we develop and make our career a success.