Catching up with Chartered Town Planning apprentice, Alishba Emmanuel
“I was slightly nervous about starting something concurrently whilst working in a new role, but it’s been brilliant. The support from the university and the workplace has been more than I could ask for.”
Alishba Emmanuel is an Apprentice Planning Officer working for Uttersfield District Council in Essex while studying with the University of Brighton to achieve her RICS accredited MSc in Town Planning. The university’s own apprentices interviewed Alishba to find out more about her role at work and the practical application of knowledge which makes apprenticeships unique. Read the interview below:
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I work in development management so my days can be quite different. Typically, we’d have a team meeting to discuss issues, or meet with enforcement officers. Then I would process outstanding applications which involves assessing the development proposal to check it’s compliant with policy and the vernacular of the area in terms of appearance.
Since COVID has this changed much?
No, apart from site visits everything is online. We’re still making it work, just getting creative!
Our course leader has had virtual 1-2-1’s with all of us to make sure we’re okay, that we’re getting what we need from our employer and the university. There’s been a really high level of engagement, we get weekly emails to check in and suggest reading.
There’s a lot of communication and we’re actively encouraged to keep in contact with other students and apprentices to continue that shared learning experience.
In terms of the apprenticeship route, was this something you were always looking into?
I took the job first and after a month my manager at the time asked if I wanted to do this apprenticeship. I was offered the choice between Brighton and another university; I ultimately chose Brighton as the focus is very much about the environment and offered more modules on sustainability which is what I’m really interested in.
I was slightly nervous about starting something concurrently whilst working in a new role, but it’s been brilliant. The support from the university and the workplace has been more than I could ask for. The scheduling really helps with making us able to do the apprenticeship as if we were a typical part-time masters student without impeding our ability to get through our working day.
When you’re at work do you interact much with other apprentices?
On my team at work, we have two other apprentices. It’s great being able to have that close interaction with them, we can share ideas and go to meetings and work experience days together.
Having studied for your undergraduate through the traditional route do you feel there are many differences?
There’s a huge difference. During my undergraduate study I could focus on my studies more as that was my sole job at the time. As an apprentice, you need really good time management skills, be flexible and have a lot of elasticity to get through your course and the working day. You’ve got the benefit of on-the-job learning which you don’t get solely studying at university where it’s more theory based. For example, we had a module on development viability and that really helped me to understand the developer’s side of things when you’re negotiating a scheme.
What was your opinion of apprenticeships before starting the programme, and has this changed?
I thought apprenticeships were all trade based, however, it’s just a lot more of an independent mode of study for many roles. At my workplace there’s one person studying through a different scheme and they get less off-the-job learning, so being an apprentice is a huge benefit. And you still get that piece of paper at the end that says you’ve got your degree.
Find out more about our Chartered Town Planning Masters Degree Apprenticeship.