19+ Intermediate Apprentice of the Year award- Sophie Parkin, Project Manager at Orean Personal Care Ltd
An apprenticeship can take you much further than you expect – as Sophie Parkin found out when she embarked on the first step of her career last year.
College attended: Rastrick High School Sixth Form College
Apprenticeship: Customer Service then Business Admin apprenticeship
Achievements: Being promoted three months into the apprenticeship; being awarded Apprentice of the Year.
Although Sophie Parkin had applied for and been offered a place at university, she was also applying for jobs and became interested in a job opportunity at Cleckheaton-based company Orean Personal Care. The business is a leading manufacturer and contract packer of hair, body and skin care products, supplying companies across the UK.
“I didn’t think of joining a large company at first,” she says. “I thought I’d be behind a till. But when I saw the job opportunity I thought, the worse that can happen is they say no.”
After leaving her job interview at Orean, Sophie hadn’t even reached the end of the road before the company rang her with a start date. “From day one I was on the apprenticeship, which was helpful,” she says.
Promotion and career development: Having started work in customer service on 14 July 2014, Sophie was delighted to be promoted to Project Manager just three months later – with a pay rise.
“I expected to be making hot drinks and doing the photocopying, but within a couple of weeks I had my own customers,” Sophie says. “I was quite shocked to be promoted so early, especially as they created the role for me. At the same time, I knew that everyone was more than happy to help me out, and I could also call on CMS Vocational at any time for support.”
Following her promotion, Sophie was moved from her Customer Service apprenticeship to a Business Admin apprenticeship, which she completed in July 2015.
“It was easy to change between the two,” she says. “My assessor at CMS Vocational, Emma, sat down with me and my manager and went through the differences between the two apprenticeships, which was really useful. It was good that she included my manager, so that she was also clear on what I should be doing.”
The benefits of apprenticeship training: Regular meetings with her assessor helped Sophie to complete her coursework and to plan her revision; CMS Vocational also sent her past exam papers to work on.
Having passed her GCSEs apart from Maths, Sophie was encouraged by CMS Voc to take the exam again, with additional revision sessions with her assessor. “She helped me out and encouraged me,” said Sophie. “She wouldn’t let me fail. It was definitely helpful to have Emma supporting me, and if she couldn’t make it, she would send her manager instead so that I could still have the review sessions and a point of contact.”
Apprentice of the Year
During her apprenticeship, Sophie was thrilled to be awarded the 19+ Intermediate Apprentice of the Year award by Kirklees Apprenticeship Hub, sponsored by C&K Careers, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Kirklees Council.
“I was put up for the award by my manager and they picked me because of the hard work I put in on my apprenticeship and because I took on a couple of new roles,” Sophie says. “I was really shocked to win; I didn’t expect it.”
As for the future, Sophie is expecting her role to become more prominent in the company as new procedures come into play and says she would like to be the person that others call on and can rely on.
“I’m very grateful to Orean Personal Care for allowing me to grow and develop my role. The directors and the Managing Director have been joking that one day I’ll run the business – and I say, why not?”