As a child growing up I had a broad spectrum of hobbies that used to come and go as I got older, but the one thing that I never tired of was Lego. I’ve read this many times regarding modern Engineers as children who used to enjoy Lego- so I feel in good company! At the risk of sounding cliched, receiving Lego as a present was so thrilling and exciting to me as a child and I couldn't wait to get to work on building and putting these sets together; the sense of satisfaction fired my imagination and encouraged me to tackle more advanced Lego projects.
Additionally, I grew up in a part of northern Italy colloquially known as ‘Motor Valley’- home to automobile giants such as Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini and as such I became passionate about cars. With my twin passions- cars and Lego - Engineering seemed a possible career route for me to explore.
During the pandemic lockdown, it wasn’t possible to seek out work experience on site in companies, but I was still anxious to put my time to good use and keep learning even it wasn’t possible to be hands-on practical. I wanted to expand my knowledge in Engineering generally, as these subjects aren’t taught at school. So I learned about Springpod and I was delighted to see that there was an Engineering course online that I could complete during the Easter holidays taking about 10 hours. It was just the right amount of time for me as I had a lot of homework for my GCSEs during the holidays and wouldn’t have been able to commit to a course that was more time consuming.
The beauty about this Springpod course was that I could take the modules in my own time within a 10 day time limit, but there were also live presentations from industry experts from various Engineering fields. Finally at the end of the course we were assigned a small Engineering task to complete which I had to send off to Springpod. Once I had completed the course, I then received a certificate.
This course confirmed my interest in Mechanical Engineering and the certification was a great addition to my CV when I was applying for Apprenticeships.
First and foremost as with any Apprenticeship, you have to demonstrate that you can combine work and study successfully. This is fundamental. I worked in a restaurant part time- nothing to do with the Engineering Industry, but I developed so many transferable skills that are important in any job for example team working, punctuality and resilience that a potential employer of an Apprentice will be looking for. However, you also need to produce good exam results! So it is a fine balancing act. It taught me to plan in advance my study-time around your shift pattern- which is exactly the same skills I have to draw on now between being on site at Bentley and my University work with Warwick. As an Apprentice you will be studying and working and you will be extremely busy- you will need to show that you can keep up with the pace.
The advice I would give to someone considering an Engineering Apprenticeship would be to get as much work experience as you can. Get in contact with local companies and offer to work for free during the holidays; if they don’t have a work experience programme then ask if you can go in for a day or two to shadow someone. Resilience will pay off and most companies today are open to this.
It may not always be possible to get hands-on work experience but there are always online courses to do that have brilliant content. At interview you will be asked about your work experience and you need to be ready to demonstrate your interest. There are no excuses today with all the wealth of opportunities on offer, (both virtual and hands-on) not to have researched and found something to do in the field of Engineering that you want to do. In the search for work experience you need to be persistent as many companies only have limited numbers for work experience students and numbers fill up very quickly, so don’t be disappointed by rejection. Keep on looking and be persistent! Hard work always pays off in the end.