Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice student discusses her experience
We recently chatted with Tina Powell, a Senior Commissioning Manager from Herts County Council (HCC) about her experience of the Fast Track Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship she is currently studying with us at UCSA.
Hi Tina, can you tell us how you first heard about course?
I was invited to go to an in-house leadership presentation at work. I went along as it’s very unusual to be given the opportunity to do a degree whilst still working, to have your employers back you up and say you can have the 20% time off the job you need to complete this. I don’t think I’d have got that agreement if I’d have said I want to go to Open University and do this.
Did they fund the course for you?
They used the Apprenticeship Levy for the course.
The course is part time, fits around your working life and recognises your prior work experience. How much of an impact did this have on you?
A huge impact as to be able to use your previous experience to fast track parts of the degree is so important as you’ve gone for years without studying. Being part time and fitting around your life both made a huge impact too.
Tell us about your lecturers.
I’ve had 5 lecturers throughout the course across different modules and I get on well with all of them. They’re all really friendly and recognise that you’re an older student which is helpful.
What was your experience with fellow students?
Great. There’s 12 of us in our cohort. I’m really lucky my cohort are lovely, it’s like a group of friends. We’ve got a WhatsApp group and we meet online using Teams or Zoom. Everyone’s had horrible times this past year but each time something’s hit one of us, we’ve all been there to support each other, whether we’ve missed lectures due to circumstances, unsure of a deadline or don’t get something, we pop it in the WhatsApp group and it really is helpful.
What was the highlight of the course?
There’s been several. When you first get your initial grades back, that is a big highlight as you’ve not been a student for so long and to know your work is worthy of being marked at a certain level is brilliant. This course was put forward as a great way to get a formal qualification for accidental managers which I think most people my age become. You work your way up and because you were good at the job you got promoted. You didn’t necessarily go to university and get your degree saying that you’re a manager. So there were certain theories you’re taught or models that you use and think ‘yes, I do that’.
Anything particularly challenging?
Part of the challenge is that as you’re a manager in a very responsible position you’ve still got that job with those responsibilities. Sometimes the deadlines to a degree can be really tough, you’ve got to meet those and you’ve got other things coming up too. And obviously the pandemic – having to move from working in an office, get your team successfully working at home whilst doing the degree from home instead of face to face is difficult because the distractions are there, like Amazon deliveries and my cats…
How would you describe your experience of the course to someone who was thinking about doing it?
It’s an excellent opportunity and if you get the chance to do it you should grab it with both hands because you won’t get the chance very often where you can study for such a great degree whilst working. And if it’s an apprenticeship it doesn’t cost you anything either. Confidence wise it really does help. I thought I was confident before but there’s been certain parts of this course that’s really made me think. It gave me the confidence to apply for my (new) current role and I got suggested to apply as I was showing my work to senior management, something I would never have done before. We get a lot of 1-2-1 coaching which really helps and I remember having a conversation with one of the tutors that gave me the courage to put my thoughts forward to senior managers – I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself forward before.
Thanks Tina and we wish you luck for the rest of your degree and do let us know how you get on when you finish in the Autumn.