We Are Randox | Randox Apprentice Grace Catney graduates with First Class Foundation Degree
Did you know that in partnership with Southern Regional College, Randox offers an industrial apprenticeship scheme?
This month our first group of Randox apprentices completed this Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science, and we’re delighted to announce that Grace Catney, an apprenticeship from our Quality Control division, has graduated with a first class degree!
We sat down for a chat with Grace to find out how she has found the apprenticeship experience, and what she wants to let students know about what it’s like to do an apprenticeship with Randox.
This is what Grace had to say:
After completing one year of my A-levels I applied for a BTEC National Diploma in Applied Science, having realised that doing A-levels wasn’t the path I wanted to take. For young students I think it’s so important to let them know that there is no one correct path to your dream job. Going directly into university isn’t for everyone, and completing the National Diploma was the best decision I made for my own education, as I gathered the hands on experience in the laboratory that I wouldn’t have had if I was to finish my A levels. During my National Diploma which lasted 2 years, I worked in my family’s chip shop and in Starbucks, which was also so fundamental in teaching me how to balance work, education and leisure.
Then when I gained a Triple Merit in my BTEC, my tutor from Southern Regional College made me aware of the apprenticeship with Randox, and so I went along to an interview which lasted around 20-30 minutes. Four people were chosen to take part in the apprenticeship programme, with three out of the four people having been on the BTEC course with me. The other apprenticeship came from a previous job and already had a masters degree. The apprenticeship programme is open to people from all walks of life.
The apprenticeship itself is a 2 year programme made up of one day a week in the Southern Regional College in Portadown, and four days a week working in Randox. At college I studied a range of modules including Biochemistry, Genetics, Professional Practice, Laboratory Procedures, Physiology, Cell Biology, Chemistry and Mathematical Statistics, and at Randox I completed 3 rotations working within Production, Biochip Quality Control and R&D Quality Control.
Carrying out the apprenticeship has helped me improve so much in many areas. Working and completing the Foundation Degree is very intense, as you are simultaneously studying for exams and learning new work skills within your department. But the benefit is that you can apply what you are being taught to your work as soon as you learn it, which makes understanding the concepts so much easier.
The most enjoyable part of the apprenticeship was the rotation through different departments. This helped me to learn a lot about the work that goes on – from the initial production of a Reagent, to Microbiology, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and then shipping to customers. Being in multiple departments has allowed me to see different stages along the production life of a product, while getting to know many incredibly talented employees throughout the company.
Working for such a globally successful company has given me the opportunity to see how science is changing the world, and to be a part of it, and it has also given me an advantage over full-time university students, because I already have 2 years’ experience in the science industry and a job secured. Education is important, but in the science industry experience is essential, and that’s what I am thankful to Randox for.
I have been treated as an employee, and not just a student. The responsibilities with which my managers have entrusted me with have given me a real insight into the role of an analyst, and the different rotations helped me to determine what area of science I would prefer to work in.
When I came into Randox all I knew is that I wanted a hands-on, practical job that would help make a difference in the world of healthcare. When I completed my final rotation in R&D Quality Control, I knew that it was the department I could see myself in permanently, and so I was delighted when I was offered a full time job.
Knowing that my work over the past few months in Quality Control has been to a level high enough to be offered a permanent job is a very good feeling. Many students come out of university with a degree but cannot find a job. I’ve done the opposite of that in some ways – I secured a job first before moving on to the next stage of my degree! The only condition of the job was that we had to pass the foundation course, and so luckily I got a first overall.
I feel a mixture of nerves and excitement knowing that I’m going to be completing my final two years of a BioMed degree while working at Randox. I think the distance learning will be an easier transition than maybe I had previously thought, given that during the apprenticeship we only had one day in class and had a lot of online classes throughout the week. I’ve never wanted to go to university as a full time student and so I’m am glad that this is available to me to complete while continuing my career with Randox. I have read a lot about the Biomedical Degree and the modules and am quite eager to begin the course.
It’s also reassuring knowing that over the past 2 years I have significantly developed my ability to prioritise work, and to balance my job and studies. This will set me in good stead for my BioMed degree. Having a full time job and completing coursework and studying for exams is very hard and can be stressful – but the end result is worth it.
It can be challenging, but that’s what I love about science – there are so many new reactions, materials, procedures, regulations etc. to learn. There can be a big workload at times, but that’s always going to happen when you’re part of such a fast-paced company, and at Randox we’re very lucky that the support is always there if needs be. Luckily, I enjoy the rush and challenge of my job, and knowing your employer is trusting you to work on their world-class products is an amazing feeling.
Although the apprenticeship is challenging, if you have the right mind-set and motivation, you will gain so much from it. I highly recommend the Randox Higher Level Apprenticeship Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science.
We wish Grace and her fellow Randox apprentices the best of luck on whatever path they have chosen to progress to the next stage of their careers.
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