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Feedback from WAES Apprentices

Level 3 Library, Information and Archives Services Assistant Apprenticeship

The British Library

Sheila Rabello De Aguiar

"I immigrated to the UK 30 years ago from Brazil. Initially I was on my way to America but took a detour to Europe to visit family and friends. Whilst in London, I felt like this was the place for me and it would change my life completely if I stayed and studied. 

In Brazil I studied a lot, I had six years in English, but I could not understand what people were saying in London because I didn’t have the habit of listening to people speak in English constantly and fluently, so I started looking for a college. I needed to earn a bit of income in order to survive so my first job was at Madame Tussauds then I moved onto five-star hotels such as the Marriott Hotel and private companies. I spent 17 years working as a personal assistant for a high-profile client.   

In 2017 I decided it’s time to do something that was of interest to me. I love working with information and reading, knowledge is power.  Whilst researching job opportunities I came across The British Library Apprenticeship. There were over 113 applicants, I can’t believe I got it. Once I  completed my apprenticeship, The British Library had an internal vacancy available which I applied to and was accepted as a permanent team member which was amazing because I'm finally working in an academic cultural environment in the commercial department.  

When I was living in Brazil as a very young girl looking to defend or fight for human rights and freedom of speech and that time Brazil was under the dictatorship and there was a transition between living in the Military dictatorship or moving to democracy. My father also was involved in politics, so when the library placed me in the political archives, I was like, oh my God this is perfect everything is fitting into place. 

I'm already promoting the course to the staff at The British Library I've been around telling them about this great opportunity.  I truly believe in this course I think it creates a different path for professionals in information Services and there is nothing to lose. You will learn everything. We have to know the library on all levels, not only if you work in operations. I would like to spend more time at the college, but of course we are putting in 18 months which people learn in years."


Level 3 Library, Information and Archive Services Assistant  Apprenticeship

The Imperial War Museum

Zoe Melabianaki 

"I was unemployed for about 9 months after my postgraduate degree because of COVID and it was very difficult to get a job. I was very lucky when a vacancy was made available at The Imperial War Museum. I've done a lot of temporary work throughout university and part time work but working at the museum was my first adult job, working in the collections, access and research department. After 6 months my manager recommended the apprenticeship, so I went for it.  

Both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees were history driven. It was only until my Postgraduate degree that I really developed an interest in the Library and Archives sector. I did a couple of volunteering roles in archives prior to starting this course.   

I didn't take a gap year, but my school pushed students to go to university and didn't really encourage apprenticeships. I think if I'd known what I know now back then, I probably wouldn't have gone to university, I would have gone straight to an Apprenticeship. 

When I was at school all the apprenticeships were in hairdressing and make-up or in mechanics, and neither were up my street but yeah, and I think that's a shame.  I think apprenticeships are great because you get the qualifications and experience which a lot of employers want you to have.   

WAES is partnered with great institutions. There are people on my course at the British Library and a lot of public libraries around London and Surrey. I know there's other learners at Oxford libraries and at the Tate. 

Our course leader has got tonnes of experience in the heritage and library sector. You name it, she's probably worked there to be honest. She's just so knowledgeable about the whole area, if you've ever got any questions, she can always lead you down the right path. Jenny is always sending out helpful links to podcasts or websites which are always useful. As a result of this outside of WAES I’ve joined CILIP, a Library Association, and I'm part of a few e-mail groups surrounding libraries and museums in London across Britain. So, I get to hear what's going on across the country in other similar institutions. 

My manager ensures I get 20% of my week (1 day) to complete assignments either at the college or in the office. A lot of the assignments are practical, I’ve got a little tripod on my desk which I use to record and document moments of myself in the working environment at The Imperial War Museum as part of my essay/report. 

The plan after my apprenticeship is to get a full-time job within the library and archives sector and save money for a part time MA in library management or information management." 


Level 3 Libraries Information and Archives Services Assistant Apprenticeship

The National Gallery 

Sophie Millar 

“I had been working as a Library Assistant and study skills tutor for 4 years which sort of segued into being an actual tutor because covid happened in the middle of that.  

I had always been interested in archives whilst studying at university and was lucky enough to get an archive internship, but I was interested in libraries too because I’m also fond of reading. I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to go into and there weren’t many dual course options as a volunteer/apprenticeship. Those sorts of things didn’t exist when I was studying.  

Initially I was looking for Library Assistant and Archive Assistant posts and then this apprenticeship essentially got created. So once I was looking to move on, this was an ideal course for me to go into and find out which direction I wanted to take my career in.  

What I particularly enjoy about this course is that it's a mix of direct teaching, as you would expect in a school, but it's also got a balance of independent study and group study like what I've experienced at university, and I really enjoy having the group discussions with my classmates about various topics we're studying because most of them are working in public libraries and I've basically pretty much worked straight in academic, so  learning about their experiences and sharing mind is really useful not just for our study, but actually getting to know more classmates. 

My tutor, Jenny, is a fantastic teacher and she's got lots of experience in this field. So, while she's obviously teaching us the stuff that we need to know to achieve the qualification.She also shares her day-to-day experience in her work and what she's done previously which includes recommendations and tips about training opportunities or visits that you can go to to learn more about other libraries, archives and more which is motivating in terms of making progress in my career.   

Being on this course has made me certain that I want to continue working in a front of house role because I enjoy working with researchers and helping them with their enquiries, so most likely it would be a library or archives assistant post that I'll be going into for the moment. It's given me more opportunities to find out about other libraries or archives that I could start specialising in should The National Gallery not retain my services.  I didn't actually realise how many libraries and Archives the British Museum has, so maybe that will be a future career aspiration for me to go work for them. 

Literally within my first week here I got totally turned around completely lost had no idea where I was, and support staff are more than happy if you just want to ask them for some help. Whether that's something as simple as where am I and how do I get to my classroom? 

But also, I'm looking for this particular resource. Where can I find it? So, tutors are fantastic. My particular tutor is really helpful and support staff are fantastic so you never need to feel like you should be afraid to ask questions if you need any help." 

Level 3 Libraries Information and Archives Services Assistant Apprenticeship

The Royal Opera House

Chloe Wilkinson

“Before studying for a Level 3 Library Information Archive Services Apprenticeship, I was working at Madame Tussauds where I did a lot of front-facing customer service work. During that time, I also volunteered at The Imperial War Museum. I’ve always been a history buff and have a huge interest in preserving historical information. I realised I wanted to work in archives because I would always see these amazing collections. 

I found out about this Apprenticeship on Indeed. It was being advertised by The Royal Opera House for an Archives Assistant Apprentice role. I applied and went through the interview process and WAES got in touch and informed me about the qualification. I was very happy when I got in.  

I love working at the Royal Opera House. I think the name of it itself is enough for me to be like, yeah, this is where I work, its surreal. I just think the dynamic of my team and the people that I work for and work with is just amazing. After my Apprenticeship I’d like to continue as an Archivist Assistant for the 1940’s World War Two era. The things that I’ve learned on the course would go hand in hand to work in a war archive or something like that would be just amazing.  

The aspect I most enjoy at WAES is talking about current and semi current things that we have in The Royal Opera House Collection which spans across three different stores. It is just so interesting to talk about because we have so much, so I love talking about the Royal Opera House collection as part of my assignment. 

I didn't go to university. I stopped at college, so coming back into education was really nerve wracking for me but the way Jenny, my tutor, teaches is so calm and stress free. There's no pressure to be really, academically intelligent. You write in a way that helps you. You’ll meet like-minded people and make great friends and memories. I’ve never seen a course like this before, it’s the best way to get into the industry or field if you don’t have a degree.” 


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