May 20, 2019
We speak to Courtney Major, Business Administration Apprentice, who explains how an apprenticeship with NHFT gave her the skills she needed to change career while maintaining an income:
What attracted you to apply to become an apprentice?
I had previously worked in the hair and beauty industry which occasionally involved little admin tasks. I found admin more interesting than my role at the time and was keen to learn more. I knew admin was not something I could ‘jump’ straight into as I had little experience and knowledge, so when I saw the job description for PMO Admin Apprentice I thought it was the perfect opportunity as I was learning whilst earning an income.
Did you know which sector you wanted to work in?
I knew I wanted to work in NHFT as it was something which really interested me but I was not sure which service, Project Management’s job description interested me a lot and the role has not disappointed.
What surprised you most about becoming an apprentice?
Before starting my apprenticeship I was initially a little worried that I would make tea all day and the learning process would be slow but in my first week I was experimenting with excel skills, communicating with Deputy Directors and Managers of other teams and also experiencing minute taking in formal meetings.
What have you learnt from your time as an apprentice?
I have learned a lot about Project Management, lifecycle of projects, and the importance of careful project planning. I have assisted on many Projects which has involved administration support; collating data, creating graphs to show data effortlessly on the eye, communicating with colleagues around the Trust via email & telephone, creating and arranging meetings, etc.
As well as my knowledge in the Project Management Office I have learnt a lot about myself, this role has made me more confident in my abilities and I want to continue to grow.
Although my role is extremely corporate, my colleagues Adrienne Hand (Deputy Director of Business Change) and Eleanor Boon (Transformation Manager) have enlightened me to how PMO support and help implement change in order to benefit our patients, and throughout my journey I have seen this first hand.
What does a typical day involve?
I don’t really have a ‘typical day’ as every day is different, but I have responsibilities throughout the week; communicating with Super User’s and distributing reports, updating the PDD log, creating Agenda’s and distributing papers ahead of meetings to name a few.
I am responsible for monitoring not only my personal NHFT inbox but also PMO inbox and EUexit NHFT inbox; I answer queries ranging from simple – more extensive to which I have to look into resources, research or communicate with other colleagues in order to achieve an outcome/answer.
You have progressed very quickly as an apprentice – please can you tell us about your experience?
I have had very good experiences in my Apprenticeship as I am treated as a regular colleague and not pointed out as ‘just an apprentice’. I have had amazing support from my colleagues in PMO and my apprenticeship tutor Carmen Brown and we have discussed my future in the Trust and how to better my work and my confidence.
I have been extremely lucky to work in the department that I do as they are very supportive, for example, if I am working on a unit which I am finding difficult to understand my colleagues take the time to show me in context in a PMO scenario to allow me to understand, i.e. in my unit 344 i was asked to showcase my knowledge of Gantt Charts; I knew the benefits and limitations of a Gantt Chart but I struggled to understand the example as there was no context behind it, Eleanor Boon allowed me to create a Gantt Chart whilst arranging a meeting, although this was a small Gantt Chart it allowed me to understand it more, I am now confident creating and using a Gantt Chart in projects.
What training and support were you given to develop your role?
I was able to shadow colleagues in PMO and different areas; I attended courses and conferences which would benefit me and my role, this allowed me to represent PMO at events/conferences, which also gives me the opportunity to discover new experiences.
Where do you see your career going?
I am very interested in supporting and participating in projects, so it is something that I would love to continue in, if the opportunity arises.
What do you like most about being an apprentice?
I love how I am always learning and the opportunities apprentices have within the Trust. There are so many apprenticeships within the trust; corporate and clinical and the apprenticeship team support you whether an apprenticeship is what you want to do or if it is just finding out information. The Trust encourages others about the benefits of Apprenticeships and how you can be involved in an apprenticeship no matter your age.
Would you recommend this route to others?
I would definitely recommend Apprenticeships to others; I feel I have learnt a huge amount in my apprenticeship, not just in PMO but also other skills, which I feel I would not have developed if I did not come through the Trust as an apprentice.