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Meet the Apprentice

Human Resources Apprentice

Meet Florence, one of our Human Resources apprentices

My name is Florence and I am a third year HR Data Science apprentice at AstraZeneca based in Cambridge, UK. Alongside my work with AstraZeneca, I am also studying towards a BSc Data Science degree with Anglia Ruskin University. After starting my apprenticeship in September 2020, I moved out of my family home in Suffolk to Cambridge to live with other apprentices who also worked at AstraZeneca.


After having my A-Level exams cancelled due to COVID-19, it made my decision about what to do after sixth form a little trickier. I had never been keen on the idea of going to University full-time, so I began applying for degree apprenticeships. The interview process for AstraZeneca and the onboarding process was slightly different from the supposed 'norm'. All of my initial onboarding and initial chats with my line manager, team and the other apprentices were all online due to COVID. The first month was a challenge, however I had finally made the decision to move out of my family home so I could get a sense of what life after sixth form really was like.


I moved out of my family home at the end of my first month at AstraZeneca into a house in Central Cambridge with 2 other apprentices. I had only met one of them previously but had been in contact with the other apprentice lots prior to moving in, due to the apprenticeship team at AstraZeneca putting us all in contact. Not long after I moved away from home, the UK went into a month lockdown. The idea of being in a lockdown was initially a lot worse than it actually was. I was worried about not being able to see my family for a month and missing out on time I could be spending with my work team and meeting other apprentices. However, it gave me a month to get to know my new housemates and to explore Cambridge on our one walk a day when the city was quiet! I think it's hard when you first move out of your family home, as you miss them lots and it seems strange thinking of your own dinner ideas and cooking for yourself, for example. However, to really settle into my new house, I think I was lucky I had the month of being thrown in the deep end with it and learning to live without them.


After having just moved into my 3rd year house with another apprentice, I think about my first couple years in Cambridge. Having two lockdowns within 6 months of moving out was a struggle and being brand new to my apprenticeship and AstraZeneca, it was hard to network with my team and other apprentices. I didn't actually start living my 'student' life away from home until the second year. COVID restrictions were finally being eased, meaning I could go into the office and finally meet the team I had already worked with for a year. I also got the opportunity to meet all of the other apprentices, not only in my cohort but from all the other cohorts too. Social committees started planning more events now that restrictions had been lifted and I finally got the sense of living in Cambridge. After chatting to loads of apprentices in different cohorts and working at different sites, you realise that there are quite a few apprentices who have relocated for their apprenticeship. This is reassuring as you know there is always someone around if you need them and lots of people in the same boat as you. I don't regret my decision to do an apprenticeship rather than going to university.  I have been able to move out from home and live with other people my age doing a similar thing to me but also, I'm able to socialise with all the other apprentices based in Cambridge through a variation of socials planned.  Now, being in the office 3/4 days a week, having a couple of events a month with other apprentices based at other sites and being able to network with such a large company, I am so confident with my choice to move out and move to Cambridge.


Here are some of my tips for people who are considering moving out:

  • The idea of moving out is daunting - here are some things I did to get myself excited about it:
    • Go homeware shopping for decorations for your new bedroom, kitchen utensils, etc. These little things made me excited for moving and decorating and making my new bedroom exactly the way I wanted it to be!
    • Planning to see friends and family from home and showing off your house!
    • I loved the idea of planning lots of dinners and movie nights in with my friends - once a month, my friends from home visit and I either cook them dinner, or we go and explore a new restaurant in Cambridge that none of us have been to before
  • Find other people/apprentices who have just moved out too
    • Find people who are new to the location and new to moving out, explore the new city together, try new restaurants together - it's always easier to do it with someone else in the same boat as you.
  • From my experience, it makes you appreciate your family more, especially home-cooked dinners!
    • Now, I am so busy in the week with work and have such great friends here, I don't go home as often as I initially did
    • However, I always go home at least once a month for a long weekend. After moving out, you really start to appreciate your parents more in particular, with everything they used to do when you were still living at home. Home-cooked meals and getting your washing done for a weekend is always a bonus too!

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