Spotlight on School of Medicine Modern Apprentices

Friday 26 May 2023
Former Modern Apprentices and current University staff members Rachel Horn (left) and Emma Stewart (right).

After two years working across the School of Medicine’s Professional Services Department, two QA Modern Apprentices have successfully moved on to full-time positions at the University. Now settled in their roles, Rachel Horn and Emma Stewart reflected on how their apprenticeships helped prepare them for this next step.

QA specialises in digital and technology apprenticeships, connecting organisations to young people interested in the field. The programme allows apprentices to gain paid workplace experience while completing coursework towards vocational qualifications. As Business Administration and Digital Support Modern Apprentices respectively, Emma and Rachel developed the skills to thrive in their new roles while contributing positively to the work of the School.

Emma, who joined Student Services as a Reception Administrator in March, applied for the QA scheme shortly after graduating from school during the COVID-19 pandemic. She says the disruption of multiple lockdowns left her feeling unprepared for university but still wanting to move forward in her career. The ability to work and learn simultaneously as an apprentice was extremely appealing to her. These same benefits attracted current Medicine postgraduate secretary and research support administrator Rachel, who started her apprenticeship prior to the pandemic in 2019.

Both Rachel and Emma found the School of Medicine a supportive and instructive work environment. Their apprenticeships included time with all six professional services teams, helping them better understand where their interests lay. “I particularly enjoyed helping out at undergraduate and ScotGEM interviews,” said Rachel, who now appreciates the student interaction her current position involves.

This variety also helped Emma and Rachel develop several essential administrative and interpersonal skills. Alongside her day-to-day experience in the office, Rachel completed the University’s Passport to Administrative Excellence programme, which included modules on time management, customer service, and effective communication. Rachel has found the lessons from the communication module particularly useful as her career has progressed. Mastering this capacity gave her the confidence to apply for her current role before she had even completed her apprenticeship!

Like Rachel, Emma also identified honing her communication skills as vital to her success. “I learned to feel comfortable communicating with people considerably senior to me. This was a challenge for me at first, but learning how to speak to a wide range of people has been particularly valuable in my new position,” she said. She now feels confident interacting with the variety of students, staff and others she encounters at Student Services.

Aside from the practical benefits of the programme, both Emma and Rachel emphasised the quality of the relationships they built at the School. Having approachable colleagues ensured they felt comfortable asking questions, the importance of which was another key takeaway for Emma: “Talk to people and ask for help when you need it; that’s probably one of my biggest bits of advice.”

Their ability to integrate easily into their teams was not lost on Rachel and Emma’s colleagues, who had only positive things to say about their then-apprentices. “We have been delighted to host two successful apprenticeships at the School of Medicine,” said apprenticeship mentors Helen Clark (Medicine Operations and Facilities Support Manager) and Kara Kinnaird (Personal Assistant to the Dean of Medicine). ‘‘While they both quickly fitted into their roles, adding value to our operations and processes, it was also great to see them develop professionally and personally during their time with us. The experience and confidence they gained along the way helped them secure full-time roles with the University, where they are now valued members of their respective teams.”

Offering some final words for aspiring apprentices, Emma and Rachel were enthusiastic. “It’s definitely a good learning opportunity. You are able to work and learn at the same time and gain experience that you may not get from going to college,” said Rachel. “Definitely do it,” advises Emma. “It’s the best thing I could have done and really helped me grow into the person I am today.”

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