Emma Colbeck

Degree Level Apprentice – Laboratory Technician

Apprenticeship Experience

Apprenticeship Programme: Level 6 Laboratory Scientist

Current Job Title: Degree Level Apprentice – Laboratory Technician

What did you do before joining CPI?

After I finished my A levels, I did plan on going to university full-time however I decided that this wasn’t for me. I ended up working in retail for a little bit which helped to increase my confidence.

Why did you decide to do an Apprenticeship?

Doing an apprenticeship wasn’t my original plan as at college, everything was more focused towards applying for university and not much information, if at all, was given on degree level apprenticeships.

How did you find out about the apprenticeship at CPI?

A family member found it and encouraged me to apply.

How did you find out about the apprenticeship at CPI?
A family member had forwarded it to me.

What appealed to you about an apprenticeship as opposed to other further learning or study programmes?
Being able to relate the theory you are studying at university to the real workplace. Also, the fact that at the end of my five-year apprenticeship, I will have a degree as well as five years’ experience in a professional environment, something that I would not have if I had gone to university and studied full-time.

What was it that interested you in the subject area your apprenticeship is in?
I studied Biology and Chemistry at A‑Level, so I knew I eventually wanted to do something along those lines. I also wanted to feel like I was contributing to something big and I know that I can do that whilst being at CPI.

What are your key responsibilities as an apprentice?
As an apprentice in my third year, I am now more heavily involved in technical projects. This has helped me to increase my laboratory skills as well as gain confidence in my own ability to make decisions in the lab. Over the past couple of years at CPI, I have been part of the upstream team. I spent some time doing molecular biology work and have had the chance to work on an mRNA COVID vaccine. More recently, I have been involved in microbial work and have had the opportunity to work with organisms such as Escherichia coli and Pichia pastoris.

What is the best part of your apprenticeship?
Getting to work with a huge variety of talented people that are all passionate about so many different things. Also, being here as well as studying at university part-time helps put everything I am learning into perspective.

What are your future career goals and how will this apprenticeship help you reach them?

I’m still not entirely sure what my future career goals are but I would really like to stay involved with upstream work as this is the area that I am most interested in. I also know that whatever work I do, I want to feel like I am making a difference with it.

What qualities do you think CPI has as an employer?
CPI gives you the opportunity to take part in lots of internal and external training, whether it is training for a specific piece of equipment or training to develop personal qualities, such as leadership skills. I know that everything I do whilst at CPI will benefit my career and future self. The help and support from everyone at CPI is amazing.

What advice would you give to anyone considering applying for an apprenticeship?
Just go for it! University isn’t for everyone and by doing an apprenticeship you earn while you learn.’

What has been the hardest or most challenging aspect of your apprenticeship so far?
Honestly, nothing as of yet! Everyone at CPI is very friendly and are always willing to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. They are also very supportive when it comes to assessments at university and will do their best to help and support you in any way they can.

Please tell us any additional details about your experience of being an apprentice at CPI
Taking part in the fundraising work for the MFC Foundation was something different to what our day-to-day job is like but it helped us gain a variety of skills that can be transferred across the workplace as well as all areas of life.