Ask the apprentice - Conner Lafferty

ConnerApprentice Conner Lafferty is currently studying for a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) at University of Chester. Here’s his response to our questions:

How did you get your apprenticeship? 

Prior to my apprenticeship, I was working as a technical fire safety officer with the Service. I continue to do this role alongside my apprenticeship and completing work whilst gaining experience, both on and off the job.

A development need to progress within the Service had been identified in my appraisal. When the opportunity came up, I took time out to draw up my application and pull together my existing and previous knowledge of roles within the Service, in other public sector organisations and external organisations, to participate in my interview.

What is it like being an apprentice working for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service?

Knowing that I have the security of my role within the organisation whilst I am studying is really reassuring. My role gives good foundations to build on for my future career aspirations and offers opportunities for me to get to know my team, the wider department and organisation in different contexts.  Admittedly, at times, trying to juggle both can be difficult but I have organised myself and with the theory studied on the degree and previous experience, it’s easy to get into a routine and find new coping mechanisms once you get going.

What learning activities have you been doing in your off-the-job learning? 

In my first module, I took part in some training around stress management which was really beneficial to my specific assignment where I explored conflict between myself and team members when critically reflecting on an incident. In my second module I have been asked to look at the organisational environment and for this I anticipate I will need to look at the organisation from a strategic level and hope to shadow some of my managers alongside other management positions to observe decisions at different organisational levels.

What has been the best part of your apprenticeship so far?

The best part of my apprenticeship so far has got to be meeting the people and learning new writing skills. It sounds so simple but we have built a network with others across different organisations that are going through the same programme. This has been extremely helpful in understanding and completing modules. Similarly, the degree has taught me that you think you can know everything but really you never stop learning with anything and there’s always room for improvement. I’ve learnt a lot from my assessor feedback and am proud of how I’ve adapted my writing to the quality that it is when I submit my work.

How has the apprenticeship helped you achieve your career goals, and what do you hope to do next?

The apprenticeship has given me the perfect reason and opportunity to ask to shadow management more and look at the organisation from different levels and how decisions are made at each level. I hope to use the degree and apply it to my role whilst I continue to study to hopefully improve the working dynamic amongst my team and department.

Further to that, I hope to apply my degree to a new role with more responsibility in the future. I hope to lead the future of the Service in the right direction using new knowledge and previous/existing experience from my role and roles within the organisation to date.

What tips do you have for people who want to do the same apprenticeship as you?

My tips would be to sit down and plan your future, give yourself a structure. Consider your personal life and work-life balance and the time required to complete work and give to degree level studying.

Consider your position within the organisation and think about how you might apply the learnings of the degree to yourself and your role now alongside any future role you aspire to take on.

Bear in mind that doing a degree apprenticeship isn’t just the academic workload but also regular meeting with various tutors to discuss progress and ensure that the apprenticeship is working for both yourself and that it is meeting government criteria for individuals to succeed.

Last updated: Friday 05 February 2021

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