Apprentice spotlight: Mia Difolco
By: Lisette Whittaker
Last updated: Thursday, 9 June 2022
Mia Difolco works in the HR team and is currently doing a Level 5 HR Consultant Partner Apprenticeship. We talked to her about her experience.
Mia, tell me about your apprenticeship and what it involves.
I'm undertaking my Level 5 HR Consultant Partner Apprenticeship as part of an Human Resources (HR) apprenticeship. This involves learning about different aspects of HR and learning and development and all the things that go into making a good HR department. It includes a CIPD level 5 qualification and then I can become an Associate member of CIPD. There are three levels of HR apprenticeships; Human Support Level 3, HR consultant partner Level 5 and Senior People Professional Level 7 which includes 3 specialisms; Senior Human Resources (HR) Professional, Senior Learning & Development (L&D) Professional and Senior Organisation Development (OD) Professional.
Why have you chosen to complete an apprenticeship?
I've chosen to do an apprenticeship so I can further my knowledge on HR practices because I find it a really interesting subject. Also I want to have more exposure to different HR areas so I can make an informed decision for my future-for example if I would like to specialise on a particular aspect of HR.
I never completed university as I just found that it wasn't the right fit for me at the time when I was younger. However I am really enjoying the apprenticeship now as it provides a much more hands on experience allowing me to learn, research and then practice. I like that I’m learning on the job.
What has been the most useful to you about your apprenticeship
I think that being able to learn when at work is really handy because obviously I can go to my team and colleagues and ask for advice or ask what their experience is of any of the topics that I'm learning about. Also the fact that the apprenticeship has been organised through my employer and I don't have to fund this qualification myself is amazing. The apprenticeship is not only a positive for me but also for the business as by investing in me, they are investing in the future of the department and ultimately the university
Describe an average working day as an apprentice
My apprenticeship does take quite a lot of forward planning to be honest with you with regards to making sure that I can fulfil my apprenticeship also while working normally. I like to plan my workload around any deadlines while keeping in mind I’ll be “away” and focussing on my apprenticeship. I tend to log on and I have a look at emails for anything urgent and I will maybe do some work for an hour in the morning. Then I'm able to message my supervisors and just say I've tidied up my workload and that I’ll be working on my apprenticeship for the rest of the day. I've learnt to plan my apprenticeship study time so I know it's all going to be on time as it’s important that I’m working on my CIPD qualification.
Where do you see yourself in a few years' time?
Ideally I'd like to be in a HR role which uses my expertise from my apprenticeship and CIPD course - whether that will be in a more generalist HR role as a general HR practitioner or whether I will decide to focus on one particular area of HR as there are many to choose from. I guess that decision will come in time when I complete the CIPD course and I study all the different areas. There might be a particular area/field that I really find interesting and that might be something that I want to specialise in but at the moment I’m enjoying the programme and will see where it will take me.
What advice would you give to a colleague considering an apprenticeship.
I think that realistically an apprenticeship is quite a lot of work so individuals need to assess that and take that on board. However I do think that if they are looking to progress in a particular area of work then I think it is a really good thing to do because these kind of courses can really take you to different places at work.
Tell me something about Mia that not many people know.
Before moving into HR, I used to be a professional baker and managed kitchens for Hummingbird Bakery in London. I still enjoy baking as a hobby and make birthday and weddings cakes for friends and family.