Meet the newest member of the NEC team: 18-year-old Debora Cascalheira, who’s just joined the organisation to complete an apprenticeship in business and administration.
Debora, who’s originally from Portugal, enrolled on the NVQ through Cambridge Regional College and will be working closely with both the course advice and sales and marketing teams for the 18-month duration of her apprenticeship.
Now in her third week at NEC, she’s spent most of her time getting to know the different departments and familiarising herself with the range of courses on offer, as well as contributing towards work for the College’s 50th anniversary project, Future 50.
‘I chose this apprenticeship because I’m interested in business and admin,’ Debora explained, ‘and because it’s a really good qualification to have.
‘Also, when I came to visit NEC for the first time I noticed that everyone was really friendly and close – it’s sort of like a family, with a really positive atmosphere.’
Debora has an assessor based at Cambridge Regional College who she’ll be in regular contact with as she works towards her qualification. As well as meeting in person, they have regular video chats using an online learning system that also allows Debora to upload completed work.
The apprenticeship is a great way to combine gaining a recognised qualification with receiving valuable experience of the world of work – picking up useful skills and applying learning to real work situations.
For Debora the system works really well; she’s very much enjoying her apprenticeship and has learned a lot already.
‘My favourite thing about the work I’ve done so far is the customer relations training I’m getting – I really enjoy speaking to enquirers on the phone and helping people find the right course.
‘I’ve also had some fun working on the Future 50 campaign, scanning old course materials covers. Some of them are pretty different – especially those from the '70s!’
Getting to know NEC’s many courses is a big job, so Debora has been spending a lot of time with the Guide to Courses, getting to grips with the many options on offer.
One course she’s likely to get more familiar with than most is NEC’s Critical Thinking A level – she enrolled on it last week.
‘I’ve only just started looking at the course materials,’ she said, ‘but they look really good. There are some great exam tips in there and lots of activities too. I’ve done seven so far, and am nearly ready to start working on my first assignment now.’
So what does Debora see herself doing after she finishes her apprenticeship?
‘Well I really like working at NEC,’ she enthused, ‘so I’ll be thrilled if they want me to stay on when I’ve finished my apprenticeship.
‘Everyone’s very personable and has made me feel really welcome. It just feels “comfortable”, if that makes sense – everyone here seems to have a real passion for NEC’s work.’
Debora’s ultimate ambition is to become a psychologist – she hopes to study part-time for a degree in abnormal and clinical psychology after completing her apprenticeship. For the next 18 months however, she’s a welcome full-time member of the NEC team.
For more information on the Critical Thinking A level Debora's studying, as well as the rest of the courses offered by NEC, visit the NEC website.