After finishing my A levels, I knew I wanted to go down the career path of a civil engineer. I applied and was accepted onto a civil engineering foundation course at South West Regional college, Omagh. It wasn’t until I was on my placement year with Atkins that I was introduced to Workplus.
My practice manager, Martyn Harvie, informed me of the benefits and opportunities doing an apprenticeship can bring. An apprenticeship was something I hadn’t previously considered before but I was really drawn in by the idea of earning and learning.
I am currently enjoying my 4th year at Atkins working as a Degree Apprentice. My role focuses on the drainage sector. I am passionate about environmental wellbeing, and I am proud to be able to play a role in mitigating the impact of pollution on our natural environment.
“I feel one of the greatest benefits of doing an apprenticeship is the opportunity to ask for help.”
I tend to be more practically minded and have struggled with some theoretical course work such as structural design. Thanks to my apprenticeship I was able to sit down with a structural engineer who was able to explain aspects I didn’t fully understand in more depth and with a different perspective to my lecturers.
I think it is important for apprentices to get to know the people they are working with. I found it really helpful to network internally especially among the different departments as you never know who you have talked to that could help you in the future. Everyone understands that as an apprentice you are still learning so as long as you schedule in time with them, they are more than happy to chat and help you along.
What’s more Atkins matches all their new apprentices up with a buddy. It was great to have someone to ask questions to and help me settle in. There are also other apprentices who are at different stages of their apprenticeship that can help you too.
“Workplus has been a great support for making friends.”
I attended an apprentice pizza night at the Stormont hotel where I was able to meet other people who were on a similar journey to me and learn from their experiences. I think it can be very easy to get wrapped up in your own bubble.
Making friends through the Workplus scheme made the idea of going into a classroom of over 70 people a lot less daunting as I was lucky enough to get to know other apprentices on the same course. The fact the course lasts 4 to 5 years was a real positive for me as it gives you time to get to know the people in your class and build relationships which can be helpful for those that are a bit on shy side like myself.
If you are not sure an apprenticeship is for you, I would recommend reaching out to employers, career teachers, parents, or other apprentices for advice.
“The wider the range of opinions the better informed you are to create your own.”
I also think writing out a pros and cons list can be very insightful. Workplus was a great resource for learning about apprenticeships and hearing the other people’s perspective on their YouTube Channel. They were really open to questions and were even able to put me in touch with some employers.
Aside from the benefits from earning and learning, a real highlight for me so far, was being awarded the ICE Technician Scholarship. The process was a great learning experience as I got to write about and reflect on my experiences in work and then complete an interview where I was able to talk about my experience.
“It has helped me get an idea of what it will be like to prepare for my chartership which is vital for my career. “
I am now in my final year of the apprenticeship and am looking forward to the future. I plan to apply for chartership and work towards my long–term career goal of being an established civil engineer managing my own team ideally with a few apprentices under my wing. I am at an advantage over graduates as they will be required to complete an additional 5 years of work experience after their degree to qualify for chartership. Thanks to my apprenticeship I have already completed my work experience whilst simultaneously gaining the right qualifications. My apprenticeship has prepared me for my future.