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From apprentice to head receptionist

8 February 2022

Years of hard work, relationship-building and extra studies enabled head receptionist, Barbara Cairns to not only develop her career, but welcome a new lease of confidence to her day-to-day life.

More than five years ago, Barbara took on a level 2 Team Leading apprenticeship at Chichester College as she knew this is how she could work her way up the college career ladder. 
And her decision has paid off – helping her to progress into the role of senior receptionist. 
Barbara said: “At the time, I knew my supervisor on reception was due to leave and I was determined to fill this role so I decided to do anything that I could to upskill and further my knowledge to get the opportunity.” 

We asked Barbara how her experience at Chichester helped her to get to where she is now… 

“My experience at Chichester College was very positive and I was actually offered the chance to complete my level 3 but, because I had not done any learning since my school days, I decided that a level 2 was where I was at. 

“Throwing yourself back into education after so many years can be daunting and, at that point, I had no confidence with my memories of school coming back but I was lucky enough that my apprenticeship ended up giving me the confidence to believe in myself a lot more.” 

Was there a particular member of staff or experience that stood out for you? 

“For me, it was my supervisor Jane who really supported me and allowed me the time, experience and development time to get me to the next stage., 

“Sadly, during my studies, Jane’s husband had passes away which meant she needed time away from work which meant I needed to step up and put my work into practice. 

“Another staff member who has remained a great support is Lisa Humphries because she is a great and fair leader. 

“Lisa encourages and is quick to offer praise, but if there’s a mistake she will be honest and transparent with you too.” 
What did you enjoy the most about your time here as a student at the college?  

“My time with my assessor was so useful as they were so encouraging and open with me. Something that stands out is when my assessor wanted to use my work as my example for future students which was a real confidence boost and reassurance that I was doing a great job.” 

What skills did you learn from studying here? 

“Not only did I gain the obvious qualifications with my Level 2 in team leading but on a personal note I gained confidence, knowledge of confrontation, law studies and how to look into matters from a different angle.” 

What do you think of the facilities/staff? 

“From my very first day at Chichester College I have had nothing but positive communications. After all, this is a real community. I have a good relationship with everyone.” 

Would you recommend an apprenticeship? 

“If you are considering an apprenticeship, I would say do it because it builds confidence, knowledge and greater understanding which you can use in later life.  

“Even now at 57 I am proof that you must go for it, you have nothing to lose, and it is never too late to learn.” 

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