Emma’s HR Apprenticeship Journey

Hi, my name is Emma Smith and I work for Cambridge Commodities as an HR Assistant. I started my Level 3 HR Support apprenticeship in November 2018 and completed this in August 2020.


        What does your role involve?

My role as an HR Assistant involves supporting the HR team as well as giving advice to managers and employees on any HR related issue. My responsibilities range from administrative tasks to more generalist HR work, and I step up to support the team with any project-based work when required. The key areas I am responsible for are absence management, training, and recruitment, as well as any ad hoc queries that arise day-to-day.


        What was the apprenticeship process like?

When I was first told I was going onto an apprenticeship programme, my first thought was ‘aren’t I a bit too old for this?’ as I always pictured apprentices as being 16 year-olds straight after their GCSE’s. My opinion on this now has completely changed as on my course I met many different people of all ages from many different career backgrounds.

The apprenticeship process was very smooth, and with the guidance from the Blue Sky team, I was able to get the hang of the VQ Manager to keep track of my evidence and off the job training, as well as get involved with quarterly cohort meetings and monthly catch-ups with my tutor, Kate. I always felt like I had support with any areas of my apprenticeship.

I enjoyed doing my apprenticeship as I was able to study alongside work as I was given one day a week to focus on my assignments, or study, or to get involved with a new area where I could add a new skill to my evidence list. It was also very clear how my assignment topics fitted in with my End Point Assessment, which made prepping for this so much easier when the time came.


        What is the best thing you’ve learnt?

When I first started my apprenticeship, I was nervous about the way other people saw me. I was often the ‘yes’ person, and sometimes found that by saying ‘yes’ all the time, I ended up with a massive workload and little time to do it. After explaining how I felt to Kate, she sent me over some reading material and a webinar link to topics relating to ‘how to become more assertive’, and even added this topic into our next quarterly cohort meeting. I slowly was able to learn this new skill and then use this when it came to my work. I now feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to work that I cannot complete efficiently in the time-frame I have been given, and I always offer to help at a later date.


        What are you most proud about?

Unfortunately, when I was just over a year into my apprenticeship course, I was made redundant which was devastating, as not only did I really enjoy my job, I had put so much hard work into my assignments and was worried I would have to start all over again. However, with the support of Kate and Jane, I was able to start in a new business and pick up where I had left off. I am proud that I was able to put the assertive and resilience skills we had talked about in sessions into practice, and that I did not let this setback knock me down. I am very proud that my hard work paid off when I really could have given up!


        What would your advice be for those considering an apprenticeship?

The best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to ask for help! I often found myself avoiding asking for help with areas that could easily have been solved if I had. My tutors were always there if I needed any support and I wish I had utilised their help more at the start of my training. Towards the end, I was sending Kate an email for advice every week!


        What are your next learning steps?

I want to keep gaining HR experience by getting involved in areas of the business that I haven’t before. Also I want to become the company expert in an HR area, such as employee wellbeing, so that I can be the first port of call for certain HR issues.

I do have some personal goals I want to achieve in the next year, however, I am hoping to be studying for my Level 5 qualification by 2022.


I want to say a massive thank you to my tutors Kate and Jane, and the rest of the Blue Sky team, for all their help and support throughout my experience with Blue Sky. You made the whole process a dream and I do not think I could have done it without you!


Cambridge Commodities

Published 11/09/2020 & Filed in Blue Sky Blog