Fern Hutton

Laboratory Technician | Harris City Academy Crystal Palace

I have always had an interest in science, and I studied Biology at A-Level. As someone who is naturally curious, it made sense for me to pursue my interest and turn it into a career. My job role includes setting up and clearing away practicals requested by teachers in the school. I also assist the other technicians in maintaining stores of chemicals and equipment while staying up to date on health and safety regulations that are applicable to the laboratory and working in a school.

I have been working part-time since I was 16 in coffee shops as a barista while I completed my education, and left my last job in a coffee shop when I was 19 when I finished my A-Levels. My A-Levels took an extra year due to my father undergoing cancer treatment, which I found very stressful. After that, I didn’t have any long term plans due to being unsure about my father’s health so I worked in retail for six months before I saw this apprenticeship advertised.

As an ex-student of the school where I am completing my apprenticeship, when I saw the advert and showed my mum and jokingly mentioned “going back to my roots”. I was surprised when she encouraged me to apply as she felt I would be good at the role. My mother encouraged me throughout the application and interview process and I realised that working in a lab would be really interesting and something I was extremely interested in.

I would like to continue working in labs and maybe start working in the medical industry. My father has been receiving cancer treatment for three years so I would love to be a part of the research being done to improve the treatment options for patients and maybe even find a cure. Even if I continue working in schools, this apprenticeship will give me the qualifications, experience, and confidence needed for me to pursue these aspirations.

I enjoy the independence given to learners taking part in the course and how the units can be completed in a very flexible way depending on the ideas and preferences of the learner. My tutor has been very open to my ideas and has been very supportive during a difficult time in my personal life. I feel like I have already learned so much and I am eager to complete my apprenticeship to the highest level possible.

My family and partner have been very supportive of me carrying out this apprenticeship as they believe it is a good way for me to get into a science career. They believe me taking part in this apprenticeship is a good way to learn and complete a qualification while working and gaining experience. It also allows me to be introduced to a professional environment and learn about professionalism in the workplace, such as working relationships and organisational skills. My organisational skills have very much improved and I find it a lot easier to maintain a routine and meet deadlines. My family has said that I have become more confident in myself and my abilities, and I am less anxious about trying new experiences since starting this program. They also think I have matured greatly and that I now have hopes for the future that I didn’t have before. 

My advice to anyone looking to start an apprenticeship would be to go into it with an open mind as there is no one way to complete an apprenticeship. I was used to working in a way similar to A Levels but there is so much more flexibility and individuality available on this kind of course. This is definitely a very holistic style of learning and is a brilliant experience filled with supportive members of staff who work closely with you through the whole process.