Michelle McKinstry's Apprenticeship Testimonial


Michelle McKinstry

Analytical Apprentice

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

Tell me about when you first started thinking about doing an apprenticeship? Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship over your other options?

I was studying for an Adult Access Course at the Southern Regional College when I first heard of the Higher Level Apprenticeship. I had originally thought of applying to do pharmacy at university. I chose the apprenticeship over going to university because it was better suited to my lifestyle as a mature student and I also earned a wage.

Why did you decide to go down the apprenticeship route as opposed to a traditional university route?

As a mature student it suited my lifestyle better.

Why did you decide to move into this area as a career choice?

Prior to starting the apprenticeship I had worked in an admin role though I always had an interest in science and in particular pharmaceuticals. I had worked in a veterinary practice previously for 10 years and developed this interest there.

What do you see as the main advantages associated with doing an apprenticeship?

The main advantages associated with an apprenticeship is that you are gaining industry experience which gives you a huge advantage over the majority of graduates. There is no cost associated with the apprenticeship which means you do not accumulate debt such as student loans. An apprenticeship enables you to earn and learn.

What advice would you give someone thinking of studying for a Higher Level Apprenticeship/Engineering Apprenticeship?

My advice is just do it! It’s a brilliant experience, you will gain invaluable industry experience and a recognized qualification.

What are the main benefits you’ve experienced as a result of your apprenticeship at Almac?

Working in Almac has given me the confidence to progress and succeed in this chosen field.

What do you think your apprenticeship will enable you to do in the future?

Hopefully the apprenticeship will help me secure permanent employment and provide me with the knowledge and experience to progress my career within Almac.

What do you hope to do when you complete your Higher Level Apprenticeship/Apprenticeship? 

On completing the Higher Level Apprenticeship I would like to continue with my studies and progress to level 6.

About your role

What types of things have you been training to do at Almac?

I have been trained in a range of analytical techniques such as Karl Fischer (KF), UV, dissolution, disintegration and water activity. I have also been trained in Good Manufacturing Practice procedures and how to work in the lab safely.

What do you do at college and how does it apply to your work?

In college we learn the theory behind the analytical techniques that we have been trained to perform in work as well as carry out practical experiments. We also learn about Good Manufacturing Practice and the rules and regulations which govern the pharmaceutical industry. We went to Ulster University in Coleraine in January, where we had the opportunity to use equipment not available to everyone at SRC such as Mass Spec, NMR, Fluorescence and Atomic Absorption Spectrometers.

How do you juggle work and study?

It can be difficult to juggle work and study especially as a mature student. I just have to be really organized and keep on top of things.

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