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sophie conner 850pxSophie Conner at her desk at Suffolk County Council.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

I think I’ve most enjoyed the whole opportunity to achieve a qualification whilst working. I believe this has allowed myself to become more resourceful within my job role(s), especially with regards to what I am able to put forward in terms of the new skills I am learning and those which I am improving upon.

Each assessment and project I have been assigned has been interesting and relevant to my work which has kept me wanting to continue my learning journey.

The continuous learning and development has immensely helped me to improve my knowledge and therefore my confidence in my performance at work.

Is there anything that stands out about the course, what were the best bits?

I believe that I really professionally benefitted from the first project I was assigned titled ‘Me and My Company’, as this gave me the opportunity to find out more in-depth information about Suffolk County Council and also allowed me to communicate with other colleagues outside of my team to gather the information I required meaning I was able to build additional professional relationships at the same time.

In addition, I’ve also enjoyed having the opportunity to attend courses at West Suffolk College to learn more about the apprenticeship, what is expected to be covered and to learn more about individual subjects such as; Stakeholders and Communication.

Tell us a little about your day job, what do you do?

When I first joined Suffolk County Council I started as a Business Support Apprentice within the Housing Related Support (HRS) team. The HRS team is the referral unit for housing support within Suffolk. If individuals are homeless, or are at risk of losing their home, then we can offer support either within the place the applicant is currently living or within supported accommodation if they need somewhere to stay. Although we don’t offer support directly, we manage the application process and refer this to our contracted housing providers or to our floating support team Home Group. Housing related support can help to support individuals (or families in the case of floating support) to resolve their issues which are contributing to their housing problems. On a daily basis I was responsible for sense checking the applications, monitoring all activity on the HRS dashboard including; provider declines, updated notes, void activity, answering the phone to both internal and external stakeholders, providing administrative support to my colleagues such as; booking meetings and venues, creating spreadsheets and receipting invoices.

After only 6 months within this role, I was offered a permanent position within the Home Care team and now work as a Contracts and Service Development Support Officer.

Within this role I support my colleagues to manage the Ipswich and East homecare contracts by monitoring performance through key performance indicators and concerns, taking minutes, booking meetings, filing important and sometimes confidential data, and visiting the providers themselves. In addition, I am now working closely with the Head of Service Development and Contracts at Suffolk County Council on the implementation on new homecare models, therefore, am growing my professional contacts and responsibilities also.

How did the course relate to what you do on a daily basis?

As a Business Administrative Apprentice and a Contracts and Development Support officer my main duties are administrative based, therefore, very relatable to the criteria I am required to meet for my Apprenticeship qualification.

The Apprenticeship tasks and assessments I have been assigned to complete have included me evidencing skills such as; IT, communication, planning and organisation and project management. Which is relatable to the Microsoft Office software I use on a daily basis, my daily correspondence via emails/phone calls with internal and external stakeholders, booking and organising events and meetings for myself and for my colleagues, and assisting towards the operational management of the Housing Related Support service. In addition, it also relates to the behaviours I am always expected to present within the workplace such as being professional and respectful.

Would you recommend the course to anyone?

100%. This course is even now continuing to build my confidence in my own knowledge and skills within the workplace as well as providing me with the confidence to talk to all stakeholders, including both internal and external.

The course and work is very interesting and what’s more is that it’s nice to have something to work towards alongside my normal working duties.

Anything else you want to add about your time at West Suffolk College?

I am very glad I took on my Apprenticeship position as I believe it to be the beginning of my long career in local government and am looking forward to the future work I am due to complete for the qualification.

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