1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am currently being trained to use a variety of lab equipment and instruments. This involves gaining familiarity with different samples and how these are tested. I have also been shadowing other workers to gain an insight about a range of tests. I am also studying for a chemical science degree which involves one study day each week. This is a distance learning course, so I can access all the study materials online.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learned new techniques for sample preparation. I have also learned to use analytical instruments and interpret the results to conclude the experiment. This has helped to develop by basic lab skills and extend my knowledge of the theory involved with the chemical reactions. My record keeping skills have also improved as I continually record results and methods of analysis for each experiment.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I am thoroughly enjoying the programme so far. I feel that I am being trained to the highest standard and given a range of opportunities that contribute to my development. My co-workers are very helpful with any problems I encounter and are open to answer questions. I am also enjoying my studying because I am continually developing my knowledge about the theory of instruments I am using.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme is very well organised. There are many levels of organisation including a placement plan over the 4 years, a competency matrix, a detailed weekly plan and training material. I find this very useful as this ensures that my trainer and I know exactly what I am learning and gives a rough timeline for the development of my competencies.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I receive a lot of support from my mentor, manager and other co-workers. I have weekly informal meetings with my manager to catch up on my progress and well-being. I also feel that I can talk to any of my co-workers about personal issues and am sure that they would listen and point me in the right direction for advice and guidance.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
I receive some support from the university I am studying with. I feel that some support services are not always applicable for distance learning students. However, the unit leaders are very responsive to emails, so this problem could easily be solved. Overall, the support needed is available, but is not always easy to receive.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
The studying of the qualification helps me a lot in my role. I have a more in depth understanding of the chemical reactions that are happening and can use this knowledge to solve problems with the instrument. I also have a deeper understanding about external regulations which apply to my workplace.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
Yes, there are several extra-curricular activities. This includes fitness activities such as yoga and walking. There are also social events within each team, which makes new starters feel welcome and involved. There are several networking platforms and events which take place (eg young professionals network). This helps connect people of a certain group (in this instance younger people on site).
9a. Would you recommend Syngenta to a friend?
The apprenticeship team give a very warm welcome and offer support throughout the apprenticeship. All employees are friendly and welcome. The line managers and mentors give very in depth training and offer multiple opportunities. Overall, I feel valued as an apprentice and employee. My skills and knowledge are constantly developing, which means I am on the right track to end up in a rewarding career.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Syngenta?
My advice would be to do some research! Find out what the company does, what your role will entail and whether you would be right for the apprentice scheme. I found that the interview included several 'tell me about a time when' style questions, so use past experiences (no matter how mundane) and apply these to the situation. Be yourself and don't lie to make questions easier (not a good first impression).