To mark National Apprenticeship Week from 3-7 February, we hear from Cambridgeshire Music’s Head of Business Development Julia Ient, who is half way through a two-year course – studying for a Senior Leaders Master’s Degree.

When you think of apprenticeships, often you think of people who are just starting out in their careers. But increasingly people are taking on apprenticeships mid-way through their careers too – to hone their skills and develop new areas of expertise.

Cambridgeshire Music’s Julia Ient is a case in point. After 20 years of arts management experience following her music degree, Julia decided she wanted to add a new string to her bow. Through Cambridgeshire County Council’s apprenticeship scheme, she was able to sign up for an MSc in Business Management from De Montfort University in Leicester to expand her management expertise.

Julia is studying for the MSc alongside her job at Cambridgeshire Music – working a six-day week during university term times to fit in her studying, assignments and seminars with her day job.
But instead of feeling exhausted by her busy routine, Julia finds the studying invigorating.

“Focused learning uses your brain in a different way,” she says. “I never thought I’d have the energy to take on working that hard but actually I’m finding it’s giving me more energy. I’m enjoying the learning. It’s a bit of me time. And I’m learning lots of interesting things too.”

Julia has three teenage children who sometimes tease her for spending her weekends at the library while they’re revising for their exams – but she feels she’s being a good role model to them. And she’s optimistic that her studies will benefit Cambridgeshire Music too.

“This is the beauty of the scheme,” says Julia. “Everything has to be applicable to your role. It all feels really useful.”

In the second year of the course, Julia will be working on an assignment looking at talent management and culture within Cambridgeshire Music. She hopes that her studies will benefit the organisation at the same time as giving her valuable business management expertise.

Cambridgeshire Music is also working with Cambridgeshire County Council and funders – including the National Lottery and Cambridgeshire Community Foundation – to set up a new apprenticeship for music therapists. The idea is to help make music therapy more accessible to people from all backgrounds – and to help fulfil the growing demand for music therapists across the county.

Julia said: “We’re very pleased that Cambridgeshire Music is involved in this project and we’re excited about where it might lead.”

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