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Learning and earning: Meet Lucy Gay

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26 June 2020

Part time study can be a great opportunity for students to learn new skills while continuing to work in the field, developing their practical knowledge at the same time. For Lucy Gay, the degree apprenticeship route was right for her, giving her the chance to learn, work and stay closer to home.

Lucy shared why Harper was the place for her saying: “I didn’t want to go to university full time as I have realised I am a bit of a ‘home bird’ and the full time route was not for me.

“I’ve always enjoyed studying - most of the time at least! I wanted to increase my knowledge of the industry. Having always wanted to go to university, but from a short experience knowing it wasn’t for me, the opportunity of a degree apprenticeship was appealing on numerous levels. It enables me to get a degree in a career I want to pursue, whilst learning on the job and developing key skills which I wouldn’t be able to learn alone from a lecture. I am not at university full time but rather 8-9 weeks of the year, allowing me to balance work with study.”

But how did Lucy know this was the career field for her? She explained: “I had done some work experience and shadowing with Sheamus Machin before this opportunity arose.

“Whilst undertaking this work experience it showed me the vast array of work that is conducted, the detail and knowledge that is required and the people skills which are essential. It was these weeks that inspired me to want to do this as a career.” 

Lucy shared more about her employer and what a regular day at work is like: “Sheamus Machin is a small firm with only three of us. Sheamus deals with Landlord and Tenant, valuation, compensation and planning matters whilst Charlotte deals with agri-environmental schemes, BPS etc. My role within the business is an apprentice rural surveyor where I shadow both of them and assist them in completing work.

“My days and weeks vary with no two days ever being the same. At the moment, my average day would consist of monitoring planning applications that we have submitted, working up new planning applications through producing location plans, Design and Access Statements and more. Due to the current time in the year with certain deadlines, I have been assisting Charlotte with Basic Payment Scheme applications; RLE1 forms for mapping any changes to land parcels, and with agri-environmental scheme applications which include Hedgerow and Boundaries and Mid Tier applications for clients.

“My average day at the moment would appear different to a day this time last year due to the current Covid-19 situation. Usually we would be attending site visits and running through various options with clients in relation to the agri-environmental schemes to help them achieve their objectives and align them with the schemes available. One day might be devoted to planning and the next would be working through a Landlord and Tenant inventory and valuation for a tenant who is leaving his tenancy.”

Lucy’s degree is supplying her with greater knowledge to take into her role. She commented: “The modules we learn at Harper link to areas of the work I conduct on a daily basis. Often the studies give us the fundamental knowledge behind what we do in work.

“For example, one of the modules this year was Rural Geography and Economics. One aspect of this module was relating to BPS and agri-environmental schemes. The lectures provided me with the knowledge on the background of the principles, why they were introduced and what they include. This has enabled me to understand the foundations and I am putting into practice when assisting with BPS and agri-environmental scheme applications.

“Law was another module, in which we learnt about the UK legal systems, the ways in which law is established, the law around tort and contracts. This is all relevant to working in the real world and can help you to be on the right side of the law when you are a fully qualified professional in this area.”

Reflecting on her time at Harper so far, Lucy said: “The best thing has been meeting people with the same interests and ambitions. Our cohort is relatively small with there being 13 of us. This has enabled us to get to know each other and become friends with people from different places in the UK. The people on the course make things enjoyable and we are all in the same boat as one another on this journey and help each other out.”

For other’s looking to follow in Lucy’s footsteps and gain a degree while working, she offered her advice: “Get experience. This is so important to enable you to establish for yourself that this is what you want to do. By showing professionals you can see what their roles include and what they do on a day to day basis, this will help you to determine if this is what you want to do. Approach firms and see if this pathway is something they would consider. This way of learning provides benefits to both the employer and employee and some firms may not have heard about degree apprenticeships, so why not approach them - you will both have something to learn!”

To discover more about our degree apprenticeship options, click here. Still interested in work experience but looking to complete a full time degree? We have many amazing industry links that students can experience in their placement year. See our undergraduate degree options here.

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