Focusing on International Women’s Day, we spoke to Henna Basharat, about her journey through the Specsavers Apprenticeship scheme to becoming a Student Dispensing Optician, and her proudest moments.
Tell us a bit about your job and what you do at Specsavers?
After my time as a Lab Technician, I am now a Student Dispensing Optician based in the Telford Specsavers store. My day-to-day role involves interpreting the Optometrist’s prescription alongside finding out about each customer and advising on the most appropriate lens and frame combination for their needs.
Could you tell us about how you started your career at Specsavers through an apprenticeship?
I joined in 2017 to complete a Spectacle Maker Level 3 Apprenticeship. I had chosen not to take a traditional route of A-Levels then University and wanted to explore a way to learn on the job and start earning money. I loved working and learning with the other apprentices – at the time there were more men on the course than women – although that seems to have balanced out more recently.
I am so glad I took the course as not only did I gain knowledge and skills I will use throughout my career, I also discovered what I really wanted to do in life – and a career path to follow to achieve that. Of course, the other great thing about the course are the people I met, who I know I will be friends with for a long time. I have a lot to thank Craig Hastilow, Spectacle Maker Programme Manager, for who has been a huge support throughout my time at Specsavers.
I completed my apprenticeship in September 2019 and started my degree to become a Dispensing Optician in the same month! I applied for the degree whilst doing my apprenticeship and was over the moon to be awarded one of only 40 places available that year.
How is studying through a pandemic?
My first year was great – and I really enjoyed being on campus and furthering my learning. I have deferred my 3rd year, as I would rather be there for the face-to-face classes and have time on campus with everyone. Instead, I will continue to work full time at Specsavers, and broaden my knowledge about other areas, especially in contact lenses.
What are some exciting projects you have worked on?
The most exciting project I have worked on during my apprenticeship would have to be planning and organising a series of school visits with one of the store directors to encourage more children to enter STEM based careers. It was also lovely to give a speech at my old secondary school about my experience as an apprentice.
What is your proudest moment since starting your apprenticeship?
One of my proudest moments during my apprenticeship would be making it on to the Modern Muse Youth Board as a female empowerment ambassador, but my biggest achievement is getting into university.
I am the first person in my family to go to university – and I am immensely proud of my achievements and how I got here.
Which female has inspired you, and why?
Amelia Earhart – Her success and determination during what was a very male dominated society is something that inspires me to keep persevering in my career!
What advice would you give to a female thinking of doing an apprenticeship in your sector?
Be the woman who creates her OWN job, remember you’re not in it to take part; you’re in it to take over!!