Meet our 2021 graduates: Erin James, Business Leadership and Management

Female smiling at the camera whilst sat in a restaurant

Degree apprenticeship graduate Erin James is already reaping the rewards of working whilst studying having gained invaluable skills, experience and a new role

  • 20 July 2021
  • 4 min read

This week the Class of 2021 have been attending their long-awaited graduation ceremonies, both virtually and in-person at the Guildhall. Years of hard work have paid off and they can now celebrate the milestone event with their friends, family and each other.

We asked the university community to come forward and tell us about students who've stood out. Students who've gone above and beyond and fully immersed themselves in the Portsmouth experience. One of the students named is Erin James... 

Erin has been working in the Research and Innovation (R&I) team at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital whilst studying the BA (Hons) Business Leadership and Management Degree Apprenticeship. Putting her studies into practise, Erin got involved with the research for the COVID-19 vaccination hub and has secured a new role as a research support assistant. 

We asked Erin to tell us about her involvement in the R&I team and how she kept motivated during the pandemic:   

What do you enjoy most about working in the R&I team?

I really enjoy working in research as it’s a fast-paced and exciting environment. Over the last three years I have worked on a variety of research processes such as leading the clinical trial archiving: a legal and regulatory requirement of clinical trials. 
I’ve worked on the quality improvement of research processes and I’ve also been leading a project in the department which focuses on Portsmouth R&I becoming a registered Clinical Trials Unit (CTU).

A CTU is an internationally recognised registry, and a successful application could significantly boost Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust’s research status and funding opportunities. 

Did you enjoy working at the Portsmouth research vaccine hub?

Although I was deployed to the vaccine hub for only a short period of time, it was a great experience and it felt good to be a part of such an important area of research. I found learning about potential new Covid-19 vaccines fascinating and because the hub was created quickly within the pandemic, I got to see the project management side of things too.

Why did you decide to work at Portsmouth’s QA Hospital?

The NHS is a rewarding institution to work for, as each role continually works towards providing the best care for patients. It’s a fast-paced and interesting environment to work in and I find the research department particularly engaging. Being involved with the creation of innovative and valuable new treatments is an exciting experience, and it’s gratifying to know that this research could benefit patients worldwide.

How did you stay motivated during the pandemic?

During the pandemic I made sure to take time out for myself. Scheduling daily walks and taking time to speak to friends and family (even if it was virtually!) also helped me to relax and feel less isolated.
Work was busy due to being deployed to work in different areas of the hospital such as the Covid-19 vaccine hub. I also needed to ensure I was keeping up with university deadlines.
Throughout this time, I discovered that keeping a routine helped whilst working from home. As the pandemic changed my normal life routine, I first found it tempting to set a later alarm in the morning. However, getting up at a normal work time and following a to-do list ensured I was still productive.

What’s your favourite memory of your time at Portsmouth?

Despite the challenges of balancing a degree and full time employment (whilst living through a pandemic!), I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Portsmouth and feel everyone has been so supportive and understanding.  

My favourite part of the degree was being able to meet people from a range of different industries. Not only was it interesting to network and learn from their different skills, we all supported each other through the course and were able to have a laugh together.

What are you most looking forward to most after graduation?

Firstly, I am really looking forward to my graduation and will definitely be celebrating after!
Now that my degree is complete, I’m looking forward to having some more free time. I have really enjoyed my studies but the final year was always going to be more pressurised and I am looking forward to relaxing for a while.
I also have been appointed to a new role within my workplace, so I can’t wait to get started and use the business knowledge that I’ve learnt on my course. 
My new role as a research support assistant involves taking a key role in research admin processes, such as study archiving and amendments, as well as working on quality improvement projects. The role will also involve learning more about research study set up and monitoring in order to help me to develop new skills, which can aid my career progression within the department.