1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am currently working in the Beauty team for Soltan. My daily tasks include: testing samples which are on stability: manufacturing formulations in the lab, performing SPF testing, managing paperwork /stability time plans and supporting my colleagues by being involved in projects regarding Soltan launches. My role also requires me to be hands on in the laboratories where I independently manufactured Boots products for testing. I am constantly communicating directly with my Beauty team within Boots but also external teams as well. Building relationships is a pivotal part of the my role to complete work and achieve deadlines.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I personally feel that I have developed in my approach to others and the way in which I present myself to those around me. I have received numerous training at Boots whilst on my apprenticeship so far, such as the use of scientific equipment, correct Health and Safety, chemical substances and the use of the scientific computer system. Alternatively to the compulsory training that I have received I have also been trained by my team on procedures that are conducted regularly in Cosmetics providing me with a greater understanding. I have been able to take my theory based learning and apply it in the workplace where I have seen my learning being actively applied and the importance that it can have. Entering the world of work in a full time position has also given me valuable experiences which otherwise I wouldn’t have had access to in the school environment (attending an event at the Houses of Parliament to represent Boots apprentices), and has shown me the importance of having high career ambitions. I have grown as a person in both my academic approach and in my overall confidence as I have been involved in several events that otherwise I wouldn’t have before.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I am thoroughly enjoying my programme as a StepIn2 Science apprentice with Boots. Everyone that I have met at Boots has been incredibly welcoming and all of my teams have regarded me as no different to the rest of their colleagues in Boots. I enjoy being in the working environment as I have my own responsibilities and I am constantly gaining new experiences whilst challenging myself on a daily basis to meet my own and teams expectations. The work that I am involved in and conduct I find incredibly interesting where the whole program has far exceeded my expectations. After completing my AS studies at sixth form I became a Boots Science Apprentice because the subjects that I was studying at AS Level I thoroughly enjoyed, but I wanted to see my learning actively being applied, which is what this programme offered. I am hoping to achieve a permanent career in science and formulation development by the end of my two year programme. I applied for this apprenticeship because I have a real interest in science in making new innovative medicines and products. I wanted to know and understand how products end up on the market and the necessary steps the formulations go through. If I had stayed in sixth form I wouldn’t of been given the amount of responsibility that I have at Boots, and I personally feel that being in the workplace and working with such a variety of people has not only boosted my confidence but also in my approach to others. I would not get this experience by still being situated in the school environment.
4. How valued do you feel by Boots?
I have continued to feel incredibly valued by Boots and especially by all of the teams that I have now worked. When attending the event evening for this apprenticeship I instantly felt welcome and that Boots really wanted to develop the innovative formulators of the future. All of my Line Managers have thanked me multiple times for my help and for supporting other colleagues. The apprenticeship team have also done reviews on how I am getting on where I have received nothing but positive feedback and appreciation of the efforts that I have put in. I was invited by my sector leader to attend an even at the Houses of Parliament as a thank you for the effort that I have contributed and to represent Boots. Finally, whenever new projects have arisen my team have involved me heavily whilst giving me the opportunity to push myself out of my comforts.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My apprenticeship program is very well organised, on the StepIn2 Science Apprenticeship I started my journey in the Healthcare Formulation team situated in D19 where I then rotated to the Claims Testing team, and now I am currently in Beauty Cosmetics. The concept behind the rotations is to allow all aspects of the formulation process to be seen. This ranges from creating the formulations in the lab, putting them on stability, manufacturing for user trials, seeing how user trails are conducted through biological testing, creating packaging that fulfils the required purpose and finally finishing documentation so that products can be released. I have seen products go from concept to manufacture. Also, lines of communication are clear - my Line Manager and representative at college stay in touch to monitor my progress. I have regular meetings with my Line Manager and quarterly reviews where I can raise any concerns, talk about my academic progress or just talk about how I am getting on.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I receive a lot of support from my training provider as they want to support my learning where possible both inside and outside of the college. If problems have arisen then they have been sorted and recognised. I enjoy all aspects of my apprenticeship and all aspects of the work.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I have continued to receive a lot of support from my employer where they always have my best interest at heart. I feel that I have a good relationship with my colleagues within all teams I have now worked in; I have also have built strong relationships with the HR team who look after my apprenticeship. I feel that I can ask for help if I am struggling with any aspects of the work and that I will receive the necessary support that I require. Boots have supported me throughput the entire journey of my apprenticeship so far, including in the initial application stage.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary meets my cost incredibly well; my apprenticeship wage is amazing especially for my age. I have the ability to earn while I learn which also gives me independence in my social life, daily costs of necessities/extras and my travel. With my apprenticeship wage I have paid for holidays because I now have the opportunity to do so. The location is Beeston and so is not too far for me travel either.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Boots is constantly holding company events such as Christmas meals and parties, bonfire night, and charity days. Also, as I am a Boots apprentice we have regular catch-up’s where we go for meals with the others on my program and those on the higher apprenticeships. Boots is closely linked with children in need and McMillan and so there are numerous opportunities to partake in volunteering events and days both inside and outside of work. Opportunities outside of work also include events to represent my apprentices program and help to engage other individuals about the options that they have.
9. Would you recommend Boots to a friend?
This programme is a fantastic opportunity to excel your career, qualifications and experience within the Science Industry but also the workplace. This is a demanding programme where I have found organisation to be a key factor alongside time management with assignments, working and arranging on the job training. I would strongly recommend this apprenticeship to anyone as I am thoroughly enjoying my time as being a Boots UK Formulation Apprentice. I have told my friends about my apprenticeship where some have gone on to do apprenticeships now as well.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Boots?
Firstly be yourself, if you are genuinely enthusiastic about wanting to do this apprenticeship then that will shine through most of all to Boots. In the application process giving more detailed answers where possible is also a good sign and this allows you to really express yourself and make a impact before the assessors meet you. The application stage is the very first step and so displaying yourself well will only help you further down the process. In the interview give eye contact, relax and be yourself. I personally found the interview stage much more relaxed then I had initially anticipated and you are welcomed from the moment that you arrive on the assessment day. The on boarding process was a nice way to meet the others who also got accepted, and the first two days really let you settle into being at Boots and the types of people that you will be working with.
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