Sellafield: Kathleen Sullivan

Workplace support 

Kathleen Sullivan, control systems degree apprentice, on her apprenticeship with Sellafield:

Kathleen Sullivan, Sellafield apprentice, smiling in a grey t-shirt

After completing my A-Levels, I embarked on a degree apprenticeship in control systems, where I dedicated one day a week to my degree studies while working the other four. Despite computing not being my strongest subject in school, I’ve grown to deeply appreciate it. This part-time degree path extended my education to five years instead of the conventional three, but it aligned perfectly with my hands-on learning style. It allowed me to immediately apply classroom knowledge in practical settings, culminating in a full degree enriched with abundant real-world experience.

The support from my colleagues at work, especially during my one-day-a-week absence during term time, has been unwavering. My manager, in particular, has been exceptionally supportive, ensuring I have the time needed to complete my work without feeling overwhelmed. My colleagues have been equally encouraging of my college work, often providing valuable insights, allowing me to brainstorm ideas or find solutions to challenges.

Over the past few years, I’ve garnered invaluable experience, even participating in an internationally recognized training program closely aligned with my field. Alongside my colleagues, I had the privilege of traveling to London and presenting our work to BEIS, an experience that exemplified the direct impact of my training and university knowledge. This journey also empowered me to develop ‘soft skills’ like leadership, presentation abilities, and project management, positioning me favourably for success in the professional realm.

Admittedly, it hasn’t always been a breeze, especially when faced with tight deadlines. However, the degree apprenticeship program has been instrumental. It not only allowed me to earn a degree but also to continuously learn while working. This program has set a strong foundation for my future. Additionally, being part of a community of fellow apprentices meant constant support and the ability to seek guidance from peers facing similar challenges, and from those in years above.

In retrospect, completing a degree apprenticeship has significantly contributed to my early development, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking a similar enriching experience.

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