A week in the life of an apprentice - Our people

by Guest Blogger, 10 February 2021
Tuesday page in a diary

The Product Data team at Cambridge University Press is actively involved in the publication process from start to finish; from obtaining ISBNs to publishing the finalised product. The team are also involved in developing and updating processes and systems so that they comply with standards and meet the needs of users. Global Product Data Manager, Helen Turner, heads up the team of seven, including three members currently doing on-the-job learning and working towards apprenticeships at different levels. Helen said, "You could say that my team has a great appetite for all things apprenticeship!"

Becca Baker is a Senior Product Data Controller in Helen’s team. She started her journey at Cambridge University Press three years ago as an entry-level Business Admin Level 3 apprentice. As an advocate for The Press' and Cambridge Assessment’s apprenticeship scheme, she has attended college careers days and even visited the Houses of Parliament for their Creative Industry Annual Reception. 

Becca has recently embarked on an upskill apprenticeship, the Business Management Level 6 Degree apprenticeship. She also now line manages an entry-level Publishing Assistant Level 3 apprentice, Hannah Goddard. Becca said, “One of the wonderful things about my role, and something that really excited me when applying, was line managing Hannah, who is nearly at the end of her Level 3 Publishing Apprenticeship. I was in Han’s position two years ago, so being able to help her prepare for her End Point Assessment and to give as much guidance as I can has been really rewarding.”

Helen said, “It was immediately refreshing to have a young person straight from A Levels join the team. Han came fresh out of the box to us! I saw her grow from an 18-year-old who had never had a job to being a vital part of my team.”

Rebecca Withers, Senior Product Data Controller, is also part of the team and is currently working towards the Leadership and Management Level 5 apprenticeship.

Many organisations and line managers often question how managing a team of apprentices works in practice, and Helen and the Product Data team are a great example of how it can work, and how beneficial apprenticeships can be.

Here Product Data Assistant, Hannah Goddard, shares a glimpse into a week in the life of a Level 3 apprentice in The Press' Product Data team.

A week in the life of an entry-level apprentice

Deciding what to do when you’ve completed your A Levels is hard, but luckily, I knew that an apprenticeship would be perfect for me. When I saw the publishing apprenticeship advertised, I knew that I needed to seize the opportunity and submit my application. It would allow me to continue my studies and tailor my skill set, whilst giving me the opportunity to work for a respected global publishing house.

My day-to-day role is varied and allows me to communicate with a range of contacts from Cambridge, to India. I’m heavily involved in coordinating and supporting learning solution projects. These are specialised deals for customers, who may need content adapted for their relevant consumers or markets. I ensure that the data in our system is accurate and follows the data standards and procedures.

I also assist the global Cambridge University Press branches, working primarily with Australia, Africa and India, but I also deal with global queries from the USA, Iberia and Mexico - no day is the same!


My week begins with checking which titles are ready for publication. It’s my responsibility to ask the Project Lead if the title is on schedule and ensure that the product complies with the data processes.


Every Tuesday I have a catch-up with my team to discuss any outstanding projects or queries. These meetings take place twice a week and are a great opportunity to rationalise any challenging tasks, whilst developing action plans. Communication and wellbeing have been fundamental throughout the pandemic, so these meetings have been really valuable. I also like meeting everyone’s pets!


Wednesdays are all about workload. I have to manage this well as I devote all of Thursday to my apprenticeship studies. My manager and I discuss tasks that need to be prioritised, from data migrations to creating PowerPoint presentations.


As I mentioned before, Thursdays are dedicated to my apprenticeship. Having one, clear day helps me focus on my studies and work on tasks that have been set by my tutor. The structure of the days vary week-to-week and I attend monthly workshops, where the tutor goes through modules with my cohort. I learn about a variety of departments in the publishing industry from Editorial, to Production, to Digital rights management. These workshops are really insightful and give me the opportunity to network with apprentices from a range of publishing houses like Penguin and Pearson. 


My manager, Becca, has her study day on Fridays, so I tend to focus on her handover notes and complete any outstanding tasks for the week. I also catch up with my tutor and we discuss my progress and set goals for the months ahead. If I have any queries from my apprenticeship study day, I will ask my tutor for assistance.

I’m incredibly happy with my progress at Cambridge University Press. Looking back at the last 17 months, I’ve developed my confidence, worked with international teams, gained expertise in publications and tailored my personal development. Cambridge Assessment and The Press have an amazing culture and everyone has been really kind and supportive, and the apprenticeship has helped kick start my career in publishing. I’m really excited to see what the future holds when I’ve completed my apprenticeship.

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