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Apprentice of the Year 2022 - Viktoriia Pryina

13th Jul 2022

There is no denying that Viktoria Pryina was a remarkable young lady even before she excelled in her Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship at the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) at the University of Oxford.

In 2015 she and her family moved to the UK from Ukraine and Viktoria found herself in a foreign country with no English language skills at all. With the aid of tutor, Diane Winkleby, and a year long English course she attained sufficient English to study her A’Levels.

However, something about progressing through the academic route did not sit well with Viktoriia and she decided to look into options other than university. She says: “I wasn’t sure if university was the right thing for me. It’s very expensive, and I wasn’t sure what to study.”

It was then that she saw the advert for the apprenticeship for a Research Grants Assistant at NDM and realised that this could be the opportunity she had been looking for. She applied and within a few days was offered an interview. “I was interviewed by the line manager, the business manager and the finance manager – it was intense! But the next day I heard I got the job.”

That was in March 2021. A year later, she has passed all her exams and been offered a permanent job, despite the fact that her apprenticeship officially has another year to run.

To young people struggling to find the next step on the career or learning ladder Viktoriia says this: “I would definitely say do an apprenticeship. You don’t have to pay, you get paid. You will have great opportunities and experiences and you will access all kinds of business, communications, IT courses along the way. And, you are 99% sure to be offered a job at the end of it, so it’s a pretty secure way to start a career and even better that it’s so enjoyable! Of course, you have your coursework and exams but you get lots of support from the college and the employer so it is not too hard. Paige Philips is my line manager and she is so supportive of me and the whole team is behind all the other apprentices that work there too.”

It was Viktoriia’s hard work and determination that saw her win Apprentice of the Year at the Abingdon & Witney College Student of the Year Awards 2022.

In her nomination, Work-Based Learning Tutor, Sheila Greenman, said: “Viktoriia adapted really well to both life in England and a new education system. Viktoriia has shown incredible commitment to her Business Administration apprenticeship and her employer, University of Oxford, through arguably the toughest times imaginable. During these unprecedented times, Viktoriia has gone the extra mile to do her best. She is driven, honest and friendly and is recognised as a role model and inspiration by colleagues. As an extremely methodical and reflective individual Viktoriia always looks to improve business processes as well the performance of herself and others. She is well prepared for meetings and actions are always completed on time. Viktoriia’s excellent business admin skills, along with her ambition to seek further development opportunities mean that we have every confidence that she will go on to achieve amazing things in the future after she completes her apprenticeship in July. It is an absolute pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with Viktoriia.”

NDM is at the forefront of researching Covid related vaccines as well as vaccines for other diseases. Viktoriia’s role as a Research Grants Assistant involves her in all aspects of securing funding, including budgeting, eligibility and researching funding streams such as the Wellcome Trust, the Research Council and the European Commission.

With regards her future, Viktoriia says: “I have never felt like an apprentice, I have always been treated as a colleague. I was the only one in the team that was not a native English speaker but they have helped me so much and have actively supported me with courses to improve my English. I am definitely staying with the department because they have supported me so much. This really is my path.”

To find out more about how the College can help you as an employer or as someone looking for their next step go to our 'Apprenticeships' page.