My Apprentice Journey – Emily Stutt

Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship

My journey as an Apprentice began on 9th August 2018 when, after just three days in my new Business Support Administrator role with Devon Partnership NHS Trust, my induction was completed. Prior to this Apprenticeship, I had no business admin experience, however, I had actually had a fairly successful career as an Assistant Manager in retail and hospitality. I had never completed an Apprenticeship before, and most Apprentices I had encountered were a good five years younger than me. All of these factors left me understandably apprehensive and nervous – but also excited to start something completely new.

I started my Apprentice journey with a different provider – not Exeter College. However, in May 2019, half way through my programme, my provider announced they wouldn’t be keeping us on to complete the Apprenticeship and I would be automatically transferred to another provider. My employer stepped in and stopped the automatic transfer and enrolled me with Exeter College. This all happened really suddenly and left me feeling very confused. Before all of this happened, I was on track to enter gateway in September 2019, and due to the number of Apprentices being transferred, and the summer holidays coming up, this was now looking to be very unlikely.

I felt really frustrated – it was the lowest point of my Apprenticeship journey. I will admit, at this point, I was close to giving up, but then decided that I had put too much time and effort into it to give up now. So instead, I kept my head down, kept building my off-the-job hours, kept revising and completing as much work as possible. In September 2019, I was then re-enrolled formally onto the Apprenticeship by Exeter College.

It appeared after meeting with my assessor, that my hard work had paid off, as I was informed that I wasn’t far off gateway and we could still aim for my original completion date. My assessor also gave me the option to complete the Business Administration Level 3 Diploma alongside the Apprenticeship qualification, which hadn’t previously been offered to me. I was assured that a lot of the work I had already completed would contribute to this, so, seeing this as good revision, I decided to complete the Diploma as well.

“From the very beginning, it felt as though I was amongst friends, which became a fact very quickly,”

– Emily Stutt, Level 3 Business Administration Apprentice

By the end of November 2019, I had finally managed to trigger gateway. This in itself was a massive weight off of my shoulders as I finally felt as though I was moving forward. During this time I passed my Diploma exams and enjoyed a peaceful Christmas before kicking things into high gear!

We booked my End Point Assessment for February and March 2020 – starting off with a knowledge test, a portfolio interview, followed by a project presentation. I had prepped and prepared as much as I could, revising my evidence and practising my presentation. And, despite a few hiccups, I felt it went well, it was at the very least finished, and I could now let go of the breath I had been holding for the last few hours. If I were to offer any advice to Apprentices taking these exams, it would be to trust your gut instinct and don’t overthink the question, but definitely go through your answers a couple of times (if you have time) just to make sure!

I found that a lot of the Apprenticeship, particularly my time with the original provider, was aimed more towards the private sector rather than the public, and I had a hard time trying to apply what we had learned to my job role. This resulted in a lot of independent study (which was great for off-the-job learning), to ensure that I had an understanding of the topic and could complete the tasks set for me.

A great part of the Apprenticeship was the off-the-job learning, which is self-study that you record and document for assessment. It allowed me to see and experience areas of Devon Partnership NHS Trust that I otherwise would never have seen and to network within the organisation, helping other teams understand what my role and department were about. I had immense support from my team, particularly my line manager, to ensure that I not only fulfilled the off-the-job requirement but that the time spent on this was interesting, valuable and would help me in my role as well as my Apprenticeship. To all other Apprentices out there, please utilise the off-the-job training as best you can! It’s a really good opportunity to experience some amazing things.

Another amazing part of the Apprenticeship were my cohorts. From the very beginning, it felt as though I was amongst friends, which became a fact very quickly. Everyone was extremely supportive of each other. We had created a WhatsApp group so that between our sessions with our provider, we could still support each other. When I changed providers, I was ultimately split up from my original cohort but we still keep in touch.

Overall, my Apprenticeship journey was pretty much a rollercoaster. Very up and down with a few loop-de-loos for good measure! And if I’m wholeheartedly honest, I wouldn’t have changed a single second of it. It’s allowed me to grow as a person, it’s proven to me that I have the ability to self-study (something I really struggled with when I was in full time education), it allowed me to have such amazing and interesting experiences through off-the-job training. But most of all, this Apprenticeship has shown me how resilient and determined I am. There were so many points I could have given up, and I kept on going because I didn’t want my hard work to go to waste.

So, for all other Apprentices out there, I promise you it’s worth it.

And for anyone who may be wondering…

I got a pass in both my Diploma exams and a distinction in my EPA Knowledge Test, Portfolio Interview and EPA Project Presentation. Overall my grade for the Apprenticeship Standard was Distinction!