Hajraah Qureshi is a Level 3 business administration student studying at Bath College and working within the Faculty of Engineering and Design at the University of Bath. At the moment, the University of Bath has three apprentices working onsite, including Hajraah.
When did you start as an apprentice at the University of Bath?
I started a Level 2 apprenticeship in January last year and finished this in December. I’m now studying for a Level 3 apprenticeship, which will finish in June 2018.
When I first started, I had just finished my GCSEs. I started my A-levels, but I didn’t finish them because this opportunity came up and an apprenticeship was my first choice.
For my Level 2 qualification, I moved around different offices within the university. I started work in the undergraduate office, which gave me a basic understanding of the university and the services it offers. For my Level 3 qualification, I’m doing longer placements. I have been working in the Marketing office since December and will stay on till April.
Has it been useful to work in different offices – where are you based now?
Yes, I’ve gained a lot of experience in different areas, so for my Level 2 coursework I was able to choose from a range of different units. Moving around helped me to realise how different departments are connected and also helped me to give useful information to students (because I’d worked in those different places). At the moment, I’m based within the marketing team, working on news articles, blogs and social media in general.
Why was it important for you to study as an apprentice?
It feels more professional when you’re working as an apprentice and it’s helped me with my independence, because I commute to work.
The most important thing was having the opportunity to be paid while I learn. When I was looking for an apprenticeship I asked advice from family and friends. They said ‘these days people value experience’. My cousin did an apprenticeship and she was telling me how much she enjoyed it and how she found it better than A-levels.
You still get a qualification which is the equivalent of your a-levels, and it seemed more fun to go out and learn about things. Being here is like being on a work placement, you’re meeting new people all the time. It’s nice going into work in the morning knowing you have projects to be working on and people to be talking to.
What are you working on within the marketing team?
A typical day is quite busy. I ask students to write blogs about their experiences and I’ve just finished an Instagram competition. I’ll be looking at whether this content made any different and how many followers we’ve gained.
At the moment, we’re transitioning to new website software, so I’m moving content and writing up newer, updated articles. One of my projects is to write guidelines for e-mail communications with students, so there are many projects that pop up. I always leave time to do my coursework at the end of the day too.
Do you feel as though you’ve grown in confidence since starting your apprenticeship?
Yes, definitely. Some of my friends are still doing their A-levels and then they will go to university so I do feel as though I have a head start in terms of gaining experience.
When we have meetings I put forward my opinion and they say ‘we can do that’. My team values my opinion and I feel comfortable telling them what I think.
I always try to use things I have learnt from other offices to help my new team. The university is a really comfortable place to be working in. I was expecting it to be really strict coming here, but it’s easy to relax and everyone is really friendly.
What are your plans for the future?
I definitely want to get as many qualifications as possible.
Hopefully I’ll be able to complete my level 3 apprenticeship and progress to level 4. I’ve had a lot of different options to do training at the university, I’ve been on general training programmes and university specific ones. For example, mental health and first aid.
It’s good to get as much experience as you can and make the most of your apprenticeship programme before you get a job
Do you have any advice for someone looking for an apprenticeship?
Ask for help with your application, there are lots of people around who will be able to support you. I asked my career adviser whilst I was at school. And when you start your apprenticeship, don’t be afraid to ask questions because you’re there to learn.
Try and get some experience, which will help you when you apply. When I was in year six, I worked in the reception office. I also tried some teaching at a local mosque and did some work experience at the MoD, which was a very different environment. That experience helped me to get my apprenticeship.