'I have found the career path I want to follow'

#InspiringApprentice Courtney Major says prior to her apprenticeship, she did not even know her chosen career path existed

Courtney Major says apprenticeships are not just for young people straight out of school

My name is Courtney Major. I am 21 and from Barton Seagrave near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

I’m doing a business administration apprenticeship in the transformation and programme management office (PMO) at St Mary’s Hospital, which is part of Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT). I am 13 months into an 18-month apprenticeship.


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Limited information

I found out about apprenticeships at the NHS through a close friend who was coming to the end of her apprenticeship at NHFT in business administration. I thought it sounded really interesting so I decided to look for a vacancy.

I finished school in 2013 and although I did receive a little bit of information about apprenticeships, it was fairly limited. The information tended to be about more traditional apprentice roles, such as hair and beauty and construction. I was unaware of how many different types of apprenticeships exist, especially in the NHS.

Before starting my apprenticeship I was a little worried that I would be making tea all day and I would end up doing obvious “apprentice tasks”. I was also nervous that it would be quite slow-paced learning.

Amazing support

I’m pleased to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was thrown into the deep end straightaway! In my first week, I was experimenting with Excel and learning other IT skills, communicating with deputy directors and managers of other teams, and experiencing minute-taking in formal meetings.

I am treated as a regular colleague and not as “just an apprentice”. I have had amazing support from my colleagues and my apprenticeship tutor and we have discussed my future in the trust and how to improve my work and my confidence.

I have also experienced off-the-job learning in other departments, such as working on rostering systems and e-expenses, which is supporting my growth and development and will really benefit me in my future career at NHFT.

I have been extremely lucky to work in the department that I do as they are very supportive. For example, if I am working on a study unit that I am finding difficult to understand, my colleagues take the time to show me in context in a real-work scenario to help me understand better.

Studying while working

I have one study day every two weeks too which gives me time to catch up on assignments. It can be difficult to fit in studying while working so this is a big help.

I liaise regularly with deputy directors, heads of services and PAs to help with tasks like organising board and committee meetings, creating agendas, collating and distributing papers and recording minutes.

I really enjoy every aspect of my job. I love how I am always learning, and I love the opportunities that apprentices have within the trust. The trust is really keen to promote the benefits of apprenticeships and how people can do an apprenticeship no matter what their age.

Although my role is very corporate I’ve enjoyed learning how the programme management office supports and implements change to benefit our service users. Throughout my apprenticeship journey I’ve seen this first-hand. It’s good to be able to see how our work impacts the Trust and improves the experience of both staff and patients.

A versatile job

I love how versatile my job is and how every day there is something new. I particularly enjoy my involvement with project management and continuously learning about the life cycle of projects and the positive impact it has on our staff, and most importantly our service users.

I now want to pursue a career in project management, which is something I never even knew existed prior to taking this role.

I feel the apprenticeship has given me more experience in the work world than I’d have got at university, due to the learning-working environment. I have friends at university and for them it’s all about just learning. For me, it’s working and learning. I’m gaining a lot of practical work experience and also know where I’m heading career-wise.

I have a friend doing geography at university, but they have no idea what they want to do afterwards. Through the apprenticeship I have found a career path – project management – that I wish to follow, which I don’t believe I’d have found at this age if I had not taken on this role.

Suitable roles 

I would love to stay within my team, if the opportunity arises, and from there I would become more directly involved with projects. I would then like to complete a project management course and a degree later on. I will start looking for suitable roles at NHFT with my apprenticeship tutor soon.

I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship, not only to young people leaving school but older people too. There are so many apprenticeship opportunities within the Trust from corporate roles through to clinical, and there are many different career pathways people can follow.

I had been working for five years before deciding to change career direction and start on the business admin apprenticeship. I believe the combination of working and learning on the job is ideal to equip you with the right skills to progress in your chosen career. Being paid while learning helps too!

Courtney Major is a business administration apprentice at the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She tells her story as part of the Tes #InspiringApprentices campaign

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