Lifelong leadership learning in Cumbria

Apprentice Experience – Bethany Dougan

Bethany Dougan is a Project Management Degree Apprentice at Sellafield Ltd, member of the Cumbria Future Leaders network and Dream Placement alumni. Read her apprenticeship journey below.

What apprenticeship are you doing? How did Dream Placement help you with your next steps/securing an apprenticeship?

I’m currently in my second year of the Project Management Degree Apprenticeship with Sellafield.  Dream Placement was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about networking and how important it is, especially in your early career. I was able to create relationships with lots of employers and enhance my interviewing skills. When I applied to Dream Placement I didn’t know what area I wanted to work in at all. I enjoyed talking to people, and the idea of developing new things interested me a lot. However, most of all I wanted the chance to experience something different. I was rewarded with a placement with Carlisle City Council (CCC) in their Tourism sector. I got to experience a wealth of local culture helping to guide tours, running the Tourist Information Centre (TIC), Taking over the TIC and CCC social media accounts for the week, attending a tourism enhancement day at Tullie House with an abundance of local businesses and finally designing the new ‘Welcome to Carlisle’ brochures and display in the train station alongside the graphic design team. All of these were great experiences for me and I was extremely happy with the placement I achieved through my participation in Dream Placement

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over university? 

Even up to the point of applying for apprenticeships and university I still wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to go down. I picked my A-levels based on my best performances/interests at GCSE level, History, Philosophy and ethics, and Literature. I went to every careers fayre I could and paid great attention to all university reps that came into sixth form to encourage our interests in their university/subject area. I had options so I decided to try and take advantage of as many as I could. What really caught my eye was the opportunities in apprenticeships nationally, but mostly locally. There were many options to choose from but the project management degree apprenticeship was by far the most enthralling to me. This apprenticeship offered me a debt free degree, on the job experience, a structured programme to enable me to gain as vast an experience as possible and finally a competitive salary. All of these things enabled me to get a jump start on my career. I could complete my degree alongside my work placements and see direct links between my learning and day job which enhanced my motivation. I also would be able to get my foot in the door at work in terms of creating relationships with colleagues, understanding my companies way of working and having experience in the career I would go on to pursue. A Project Management degree would also enhance my career prospects in a relatively new and worldwide field of work.

Why did you choose to stay in Cumbria? 

There is such an abundance of opportunity in Cumbria that I didn’t see a need to move away to find the right job for me. That’s not to say I am limited to this area but for my early career I’m right where I need to be.

When will you complete your programme?

I will complete my apprenticeship in summer 2024. From this I will go on to a career in either Project Management, Project Controls, Construction, Commissioning, Pre-ops, Risk Management or Programme Management by following the pathways Sellafield sets out for us to help us achieve our goals.

What are your next steps? What do you hope to achieve from this programme?

At this present moment I believe I will be following the Project Management or Cost Engineering (PC) Pathway as they are the areas that appeal most to me. My short term goal is to achieve my degree, my Project Management Qualification (PMQ) and continue providing the highest standard of work every day. My long term goals are to rise in the ranks of my chosen career becoming a PM on a variety of important and complex projects, or senior Cost Engineer. I also hope to (if I can find the time!) help in the mentoring of apprentices/ graduates to help them to navigate their early careers.

What advice would you give your younger self? What advice would you give someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

I would 100% tell my younger self to aim for an apprenticeship. I am tremendously happy with the route I have gone down so far as the opportunities, for me, remain endless. I’d advise anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship to get as much work experience as possible and apply for as many opportunities as they can, wherever they can. I went to the Gen2 Careers fayre on a whim to reassure myself that I was covering all my bases, you’d be surprised how something so insignificant to you at the time could really change your life!

Thank you to Bethany for sharing her story. 

Lifelong Leadership Learning in Cumbria