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Published: 3rd July 2023

Meet Natalie Webster

Natalie Webster was one of the first cohort of apprentices supported by Cogent Skills in 2012.

She saw an advert for a Level 6 applied bioscience degree apprenticeship with Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, where she worked for four years as a lab technician while studying for her degree with the University of Kent

Natalie was already aware of the benefits of apprenticeships as both her brothers had undertaken them. She was also keen to study alongside working – but without paying fees or accumulating student debt, which is one of the major benefits of a degree apprenticeship.

At the time I was hesitant about going to university to do something I wasn’t entirely sure I’d like, as I had no experience working in a lab before. I didn’t want to spend £50,000 or more and three years of my life doing something to realise I actually hated it! So I thought an apprenticeship would let me have a taste of lab work for a few months before fully committing to starting the degree later in the year.

Natalie Webster

During this time, Natalie learned the essential lab-based skills required for early-stage drug discovery, which formed an important basis for her subsequent work.

After leaving Takeda, she moved to Cancer Research UK before moving to Storm Therapeutics in 2017, where she still works today as a research scientist studying novel RNA modifying enzymes.

She completed her degree in 2018 and is grateful to her former and current employers for supporting her as she combined work with study.

She also says the skills she gained during apprenticeship meant she could move around within the life sciences sector, meaning she never felt pigeon-holed into a particular type of role – and that the five years of lab experience she acquired was invaluable in helping her progress in her career.

I have no regrets about doing an apprenticeship. The best thing about doing one is you gain so much valuable experience and insight into the industry. I have been fortunate to be offered positions ahead of those with higher qualifications because of this.

“It’s also a great way to study for a degree without having to worry about the enormous student debt that most people have on their shoulders when they graduate.

Natalie Webster

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Cogent Skills is sector based, working with companies from across the Science and Technology Industries embracing Life Sciences, Industrial Sciences and Nuclear.
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