My life as an apprentice: Shakai Jones

1 May, 2018

Shakai Jones is one of HSL’s newest recruits, joining Sample Reception at 60 Whitfield Street as an apprentice two months ago. Previously a freelance writer, Shakai opted to change track and apply for an apprenticeship at HSL. She talks to us about her experience so far.

Why did you want to join HSL as an apprentice?

The majority of business and administration apprenticeships I found were based in quite traditional financial or commercial environments. I liked the fact that HSL’s apprenticeship scheme offered something completely different. Working in a laboratory, operating equipment, processing blood samples… this a completely new experience for me! But I’m really enjoying it so far.

What is a typical day like as an apprentice in Sample Reception?

In Sample Reception we’re essentially the front door of the laboratory – we receive, sort, prepare and process all patient samples coming in. We work in various sections with different levels of intensity: samples coming from A&E, for example, require a very fast turnaround time and therefore it’s quite an intense station to work on. Those coming from outpatients are less urgent so the work is a little calmer. I like the variety of moving around different sections – it means I am constantly learning new skills and gaining new competencies.

I’ve only been here a couple of months but I already feel I’ve learnt so much. We perform hundreds of tests so there is a lot to remember, but I’m finding the scientific side of the role really interesting. The team have also been incredibly welcoming and supportive – if I don’t know anything I can always ask for help. It’s also been useful to have structured feedback and assessments from my supervisors to ensure I’m progressing and working to the best of my ability.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?

I really enjoy getting stuck in with the more practical aspects of the job – processing samples and using machines like the centrifuge. The scientific side of my role is so different from anything I’ve done before, and that’s the really exciting thing about working here. Not having a scientific background there has been a lot to learn, but it’s been a great opportunity for me and, as I said before, the team have been very supportive.

What are you hoping to do in the future?

The apprenticeship will last 15 months – I’ve been offered a job at the end of it which is very exciting. By the end of the apprenticeship I should have a Level 3 qualification in Business Administration, and if I want to go on to achieve Level 4 and 5 HSL will support me to do so.

I like the fact that there is the opportunity for career development at HSL, as well as the chance to work within different specialities. I’m working within haematology at the moment, for example, but have the option to learn new techniques within virology or microbiology too.

To anyone considering applying for an apprenticeship at HSL, I’d say do it. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have a scientific background – the team are lovely, you learn a lot and gain a huge amount of experience. It’s definitely worth it!

HSL is a partnership between The Doctors Laboratory, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (the Royal Free London) and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH)

Health Services Laboratories
Health Services Laboratories
Health Services Laboratories