Apprentice Elizabeth Stephens recording First World War graffiti at Richmond Castle.
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Apprentice Elizabeth Stephens recording First World War graffiti at Richmond Castle. © Historic England
Apprentice Elizabeth Stephens recording First World War graffiti at Richmond Castle. © Historic England

Meet Our Apprentice

Here one of our apprentices, Lizzie Stephens who joined Historic England in September 2018 as a Geospatial Survey Technician Apprentice talks about her experience to date.

What made you apply to your apprenticeship at Historic England?
I did a degree at Lincoln University in conservation and restoration of historic objects. I then spent a year abroad teaching in Thailand. When I came back to the UK, I struggled to find work in conservation and for the past few years, I’ve had a number of retail jobs in hospitality. I was desperate to get back into heritage.
When I saw this apprenticeship, it sounded perfect. It was a great way into this environment while learning and getting on-the-job training in such a specialised area.

Can you describe a typical day as an apprentice at Historic England?
A typical day is hard to describe. I’ve been out of the office so much on site visits. I’ve been to caves, museum stores, looking at either whole buildings or tiny coins… There is such a diverse range of projects.
When I’m actually in the office, I’ve been mainly processing photos that we’ve taken on site, and trying to get my head around some of the software, and often attending meetings about upcoming projects.

What has been the highlight of your apprenticeship so far?
It was the first site I went on, which was only in my second week. It was two caves in Nottingham – I never knew there were masses of caves under Nottingham! The ones we visited that day were all under pubs. We’d walk into a pub and then down into the cellars and then carry on going down... The scanning equipment we were using gave us an instant 3D image as we were walking around. It was a really important moment for me, right at the beginning of my apprenticeship, to see it all coming together and was a great introduction to the geospatial side of heritage.
I’ve also been to Longthorpe Tower, just on the outskirts of Peterborough. That was really beautiful because it’s full of medieval paintings. Another highlight was Dunston Staithes in Gateshead; it is a huge wooden structure and was completely different to anything else I’ve worked on.

What do your family and friends think about your apprenticeship?
My family and friends have been really supportive; they all think the apprenticeship sounds really interesting and a great fit for me. I’ve always got somewhere new that I’ve been to talk about and it’s started conversations with family on stories when they have been to the same places. Having that network of family and friends is so important, as often there can be lots of traveling, staying away at different locations or getting back late and busy days with lots of information to take in, it’s so useful to have their support, their willingness to listen, understanding and their constant encouragement.

How do you feel that your apprenticeship might help you with your career prospects for the future?
This apprenticeship is giving me so many opportunities to network with different people and make links throughout the geospatial community, which I think is so important, not just for contacts but as a way for me to see what is going on in different sectors and broaden my sights as to where my future could lie. I’m learning so many new skills including currently training to get my PfCO, to allow me to fly drones commercially. I think all these new skills as well as the experience I will gain from working in Historic England for the two years will hopefully put me in good stead for a career within this sector.

What would you say to anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship at Historic England?
Apprenticeships are a fantastic idea! Gaining qualifications while getting-on the-job experience is really important. Historic England is a great organisation and has interests across the country; it’s been fantastic to be able to visit so many amazing locations while doing my job. The support I have been given has also been excellent and there is always someone available to talk through issues or explain a piece of equipment again or just to chat with. I would defiantly recommend applying for an apprenticeship with Historic England.

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