Damian Beesley - Intertek Apprentice

Posted: 5th of March 2015 by Zara

Intertek, the leading global quality solutions provider, whose Manchester-based scientists help the development of cancer-busting drugs, cosmetics and other pharmaceuticals through testing for quality and safety, says industry needs to encourage more young people into science and technology by offering careers at all entry levels.

Intertek’s Chemical and Pharmaceutical laboratory in Hexagon Tower, Manchester, sees three new apprentices every year, as well as graduate trainees and placement students.

One of the Intertek apprentices, Damien Beesley, 20, who works as an Apprentice Analyst while studying a BTec in Applied Science at Trafford College of Science and Technology explained how he joined the company, which he really enjoys:  “I had gone to college to do IT and maths and wasn’t sure what to do next and so was working in a bar in Wigan. I was pretty sure that I did not want to go to Uni. My brother-in-law had heard about the Apprentice scheme at Intertek and so I submitted my CV and was offered an interview.  A few days later I was offered an Apprenticeship.”

The apprentice based in Hexagon Tower said: “I get to use some really exciting bits of kit! Some days I work using an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry to test which chemical elements are in a sample and some days I get to work on the ICP-OES instrument (stands for inductively coupled plasma – optical emission spectroscopy) which can tell the levels of metal elements that are in the sample.

“I feel proud when I see products in shops that I may have worked on and so have helped the clients who make the products, in some small way, to make sure they are safe and have no harmful chemicals in them,” Damian adds.

Name: Damien Beesley
Role: Apprentice Analyst
Age: 20
College: Trafford College Sciences and technology, studying BTec in Applied Science

How did you discover this apprenticeship?
Did you look at alternate routes into this, or did you know you were going to do an apprenticeship?

I had gone to college to do IT and maths and wasn’t sure what to do next and so was working in a Bar in Wigan. I was sort of sure that I did not want to go to Uni. My brother-in-law had heard about the Apprentice scheme starting at Intertek and so I submitted my CV and was offered an interview. A few days later I was offered an Apprenticeship.

What fascinated you about your apprenticeship?

Most definitely, it is getting to work in lab full of high tech equipment. But also I get to solve problems – chemical analysis doesn’t always go smoothly and when something needs to be checked you really have to think about the steps you have taken and what the equipment is telling you and work out how to solve the problem. It can be challenging but also cool when you do get a problem solved.

What sorts of things are you doing on a daily basis?
I do a mixture of routine stuff like checking all the kit we need is in stock in the lab like vials and gloves but I also get to take part in product testing for our clients. Products like cosmetics and shampoos and toothpastes have to be testing to make sure no harmful chemicals are in them.

What do you learn at college and how is this helping you with your work?

The college course gives me a good rounding in science. Some parts are more relevant to my job than others – for example at the moment at college we are learning about the inside workings of some of the high tech equipment we use – this helps as it gives me the background to explain how it the instruments work when I am using them.

What are some of the reactions you get when you tell people what apprenticeship you’re doing?

My mates ask me lots of questions about what I do – they’re often surprised at how involved I can get with the day to day analysis and they also love the fact that I get to wear a white coat and work in a lab.

What has been the best bit so far of this apprenticeship?

I get to use some really exciting bits of kit! Some days I work using an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry to test which chemical elements are in a sample and some days I get to work on the ICP-OES instrument (stands for inductively coupled plasma – optical emission spectroscopy) which can tell the levels of metal elements are in the sample.

Can you tell us about any other unusual/interesting experiences you’ve had so far?

I was asked to talk to a group of 20 visiting Chemistry A level students. I had to tell them about my apprenticeship and answer their questions. I also had to show them the equipment in the lab and explain how it works. It was nerve wracking! 

What’s your biggest achievement been?

I feel proud when I see products in shops that I may have worked on and doing so helped the clients who make the products, in some small way, to make sure they are safe and have no harmful chemicals in them.

What do you hope to do when you finish your apprenticeship?

I really enjoy what I am doing now and so I hope to stay on at Intertek and keep learning and work towards a promotion.

Damien Beesley, Intertek Apprentice Analyst, explaining how a X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer works to a visiting class of Chemistry A level students.

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