National Apprenticeship Week

Blog: National Apprenticeship Week – Amber Kotwall

I graduated from Durham University with a 2:1 degree in BA Philosophy and Theology. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do afterwards – I’m sure everyone has felt this way at some time or another. I knew that I definitely wanted a job that was worthwhile and fulfilling rather than ever being financially motivated. When I found the Business Administration Apprenticeship job at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, it felt like I had eventually managed to find something which looked really interesting. The NVQ Level 3 Diploma qualification in Business Administration also grabbed my attention as I have always wondered what it would be like to work in an office environment and learn more about how organisations operate. There are numerous graduate schemes, internships and all sorts of jobs out there but this apprenticeship is what caught my eye. You might be thinking, “how does a degree like Philosophy and Theology lead to a job like this?” Well, I did environmental ethics in my degree and I have always wanted to get more involved with the environment ever since I was little. It was also a chance to find out more about the area I live in. The variety of projects especially stood out for me and the fact that I could help make a difference.

In terms of work life, it surprised me just how much day-to-day administration is needed to keep all the cogs turning, both in a workplace and the landscape. I used to walk past gates and stiles and just expect them to be there, just like they’ve always seemed to be, rather than thinking about how they are maintained, recorded and managed. Doing this apprenticeship has made me think more deeply about the beautiful North Pennines landscape I live and work in. I have also had the chance to go out on field visits to the peatlands, old mine sites and go to meetings all around the North Pennines. It is difficult to feel anything other than awe when hearing the thunderous rush of water coming down from High Force or experiencing the cool, breath-taking underground of Nenthead Mines.

As I progressed throughout my apprenticeship, I was given the opportunity to focus on certain areas of interest. The highlights have been helping to run Discovery Club and Wild Wednesday sessions at Bowlees Visitor Centre, as well as developing the new North Pennines AONB website. I have always loved working with children and so I knew after going to my first ever Discovery Club that I wanted to get more involved. The sessions are always interesting and educational – it’s not just the kids who learn but the adults too! Seeing the wonder and excitement of children and getting to be a part of that is great. I have also loved working on the new website before and after it went live and learning how to use WordPress. I have now made lots of pages, posts, events and can even understand code. I have always loved ICT, technology and being creative so to have the opportunity to help develop a new website has been invaluable and so enjoyable. I have developed my photography skills and used a professional camera, which has also been a dream of mine.

Overall, I have been an apprentice for approximately a year and four months. It has been a great experience and there are still several months left – I’ll definitely make the most of it.

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