Larissa - Senior Officer, NHS Education for Scotland

My name is Larissa. I started working at NHS Education for Scotland (NES) in 2015. I was an admin assistant for a year and then I became a training programme administrator. Now I’m a team lead.

How did you first hear about Graduate Apprenticeships?

I first heard about Graduate Apprenticeships in summer 2018. I got an email from our Leadership and Management team and it explained what they were.

I had always thought my previous degree was very broad as it was Business Management and I regretted doing something that wasn’t targeted. You can do anything with Business Management but in a negative sense, it doesn’t give you a specific direction.

When I saw one of the Graduate Apprenticeships was IT Management for Business, I thought this could be an opportunity to build upon my skills working with NES Digital. I knew this was something that really interested me since starting in the organisation, and I saw how fast progressing the directorate was. I spoke to my managers and my senior manager and they were really supportive.

How has this helped you? How will it benefit your future career?

I think this is my opportunity to get experience in IT Management that I’ve not had before. There’s a lot of technical modules but there’s also the management side of things, which is very different from my previous degree. I’ve gained experience in coding, programming, database information, security, networking and even computer hardware.

My aim in doing the apprenticeship was to learn new things in a topic which I had a real interest in. I've been able to gain real-time experience and exposure to the NES Digital team, all while remaining in an organisation I knew I wanted to progress my career in.

The modules have provided me with an insight and basic understanding of many elements of the digital working environment, meeting a lot of the teams, understanding organisational strategy, networking, allowing me to build up a rapport and support network with senior colleagues within NES Digital.

Tell us about a typical week

A typical week for me is spent in my training management role as a team lead. Usually, Friday's are my university days. My line managers have been so supportive with this and I get at least a day a week where I focus on my studies.

We have our blackboard collaboration sessions through Robert Gordon University so most of my time at the end of the week is dedicated to lectures, course work and having meetings with digital colleagues.

I also try to go down to Glasgow, where NES Digital is base, once within each module. I spend that day with the digital team, sitting in on meetings, shadowing and connecting with my mentor. It’s just nice to be a fly on the wall sometimes, seeing everything that NES does. That’s an important thing about the Graduate Apprenticeship, you get the opportunity to put your learning into practice in your workplace, where I experience how NES as an organisation works.

What do you wish you knew before you started your apprenticeship?

In my experience, I find it difficult to point out anything negative. I don’t look back and think I wish I would’ve known that before and not applied. I knew already that it would be a lot of work for me because I had been to university before and knew what to expect.

I focus on knowing I’m doing this for my own personal progression, keeping mindful that my current day-to-day role and its responsibilities come first. So, I’m respectful of that, and do occasional evening and weekend work, especially nearer to module deadlines. If I’m advising anyone who wishes to do it, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but people have to expect that it’s not going to be a breeze. People need to remain focused on the fact that it will pay off and you get a lot of exposure and experience, but you do have to put in the time.

What are the most rewarding things about your job and the apprenticeship?

The most rewarding thing within my current role is working collaboratively with my team, and all the stakeholders involved in the training management journey, who’s end goal is assiting medical trainees in the completion of their training. They are going to be the future of the NHS and they’re going to be looking after me and everyone else. My day-to-day role is very much a support mechanism throughout their training journey which continues to be benefited by their use of all these digital developments and tools within TURAS Training Management.

The Graduate Apprenticeship linked well to that aspect and the systems and software that NES Digital will be looking to bring out to facilitate this on the TURAS Digital Platform. It is not just Medical either, but NES Digital enhancements are prevalent in all directorates. So, we develop these amazing systems and amazing software capabilities that can make it easier and more convenient for trainees to complete their training and progress on to become consultants, dentists, nurses, and midwives while show-casing how Scotland remains a great place to train and stay in.

What advice would you give anyone who is thinking of applying for an apprenticeship?

Go for it. No matter what role you’re in, you can do it. I suppose I’d say not to be fooled that it’s not hard work. Sometimes it’s quite intense, it’s a big learning curve at the beginning, learning to juggle your own role along with study but as long as you have great support networks behind you, and your line manager is supportive, you’re winning really. You don’t always get a chance in your career that the Graduate Apprenticeship has given me.

What are your future career plans?

At the moment, I’m very much enjoying the role I’m in alongside my studies. I recently starting in this role which has line management experience and a lot of exposure and opportunity in training management that I didn’t have before. But I enjoy the merging of the two in my working week and increasing the links I have with digital.

As time goes on in my Graduate Apprenticeship, it would be great to try and merge my role in what I’m doing in training management and digital with the end goal of working in NES digital.

I’m currently enjoying data analytics and analyst work, so that’s interesting to me. But again, it’s just an amazing opportunity to dip my toes into a lot of different departments and teams in digital to think I really enjoyed that, or I didn’t enjoy that.

A lot of the user experience is interesting as well. I’m a people person. I like talking to people and getting people together, so creating something that can assist and help in anyone’s day-to-day role, making processes and tasks easier, excites me.

So yeah, I think hopefully I see a lot of positivity coming from this and to my future career. It’s giving me the best opportunity you can get. As long as I’m happy and find success in myself and in what I’m doing, that’s the main thing, doing something you enjoy.