I have very fond memories of my time at Reigate College and it had a big impact on my future. It’s where I grew, matured and began to be treated like an adult. When I left, I took a gap year as I had deferred my university offer to study Criminology at Exeter. I was keen to have some time away from exams and academic pressures and wanted to earn some money.

Initially, I worked as a Teaching Assistant but realised it wasn’t the right role for me, so I applied for a job with Reigate & Banstead Council as a Level 3 Business Support Apprentice in the Environmental Health and Licensing Department. I loved it so much that when an opportunity arose for me to apply for a four-year degree apprenticeship with them, I took it.

Environmental Health spans a range of areas including Food Safety; Health and Safety; Private Sector Housing; Environmental Protection; and broader Public Health. I get to work with a wide range of people, such as landlords and store workers as well as the public, and the role is incredibly varied. No two days are the same and no two cases are alike.

My ambition was always to have a job that helped those around me, which I now do every day by safeguarding public health through food business inspections; getting involved in health and safety accident investigations; doing assessments on privately rented housing and much more.

Balancing both my university learning and office workload can be hard, but if I ever feel a bit overwhelmed, I have an incredibly supportive manager and colleagues who also try to guide, reassure, and help me challenge my mindset.

I’d never thought about doing a degree apprenticeship when I was at Reigate College – they seemed few and far between – so I’d urge students to explore the options. Many of my assessments are coursework-based, removing the pressures of timed, written exams. For me, it’s the best of both worlds – workplace experience and higher education – all wrapped up in one. Another huge bonus is it hasn’t cost me a penny in fees, and I’m earning a salary.

One day, I hope to do further training to become a fully qualified Environmental Health Officer registered with the CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health).

Tilly Newton

Reigate College: 2017 -2019

Currently: Degree Apprenticeship with Reigate & Banstead Council studying for BSc Environmental Health (Hons) at Middlesex University

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