After I left school I went on to study Fashion and Textile Design at The Glasgow School of Art, here I developed my creative design skills and artistic processes as a weaver.
Once achieving my BA(Hons) in Fashion and Textile Design I went on to work as a design intern for Amtico, before becoming a freelance designer for Weldon flooring.
What has always been clear to me in my past and present work is that I am interested in analysing how things work, whether this has been learning how to manually set up and use weaving looms to produce fabric or later, through CAD, to create flooring patterns and technical drawings. This interest is what encouraged me to apply for an Engineering Apprenticeship with BAE Systems, I thought the apprenticeship would give me the opportunity to work with practical and theory-based engineering, which with my past experiences I thought I would find extremely interesting and enjoyable. I thought working with BAE Systems would give me the chance to discover more about design thinking and uniting it with engineering knowledge, my past experiences had given me an introductory insight to these ideas but working at BAE Systems would mean I could complete my understanding of them. I saw the apprenticeship as an exciting prospect for continuous development of my design interests. The possibility of working within a company that prides itself on delivering imaginative and compelling aeronautical design whilst offering excellent training and development for employees, both globally and locally, was an exciting prospect that I did not want to miss out on.
A second factor in applying to BAE Systems for an apprenticeship is the diversity and inclusion culture it incorporated as a company. I liked that the company saw diversity in its workforce as a positive message to promote and identify itself with, the fact it recognised that diversity “encourages creativity and drives innovation” made me think that my past experiences would not be seen as unimportant but that they would be utilised and expanded on to help BAE Systems. The company aligns itself with an image that wants to banish historical stereotypes of the engineering industry and this made me feel sure I would be included as part of the team if I got a place on the apprenticeship.
Now that I am in my second year of my apprenticeship and having been to university I would say one of the main benefits of re-entering education in this way is that BAE Systems sponsors me; with yearly pay rises, on the condition apprentices meet various targets, I don’t need to worry about income or incurring any more student debt whilst working towards new qualifications. The company also offers a good pension scheme which it places you in and the ability to buy shares, all of which add to a sense of security in my job.
Financial benefits of the apprenticeship are a positive but more importantly the company has a great work life balance attitude which is extremely beneficial for an adult apprentice. The company allows time for academic work to be completed during the week when I attend college on site, which means I still have time at the weekends to deal with day to day life. Not only this but it offers support in college time or after for any learning difficulties you may have. I have dyslexia and there are after work sessions I can attend for any additional academic support I need from college tutors. It offers on the job placements in some of the best engineering facilities in the world with experienced mentors who will train me to become a skilled engineer. The company offers flexi-time which allows you to have time off if needed or wanted and it offers an Employee Assistance Program which offers resources and counsellors to help find solutions to numerus life problems that may occur including child care, senior care and legal issues.
The company offers a plethora of activities to get involved with, there is the UK apprentice council which you can be a part of; there are opportunities to volunteer at places such as St. Catherine’s Hospice, you can be involved with STEM projects, compete in UK Skills or you can be part of an exchange programme which allows you to spend three weeks abroad with another world class engineering firm gaining experience with their business. These are just a few of the activities available for apprentices to get involved with.
What would I say to adults thinking about applying? I would say, do it!
From my own personal experience I know how daunting it can be. The thought of dropping everything you’ve been working on up until this point and changing your life completely brings up all sorts of emotions and thoughts. Knowing you will be entering a pool of people who could be years younger than you can be unnerving but with an inclusive attitude you will be surprised at what you can learn from everyone of all ages. I would just want to reassure anyone thinking of applying that BAE Systems is a place that wants you to fulfil your potential. The company wants to help you grow and develop your current skills; it is invested in training all its apprentices to become highly skilled engineers no matter their age. I would say that the company recognises the experiences you have gained in life up until this point and it values them.
Switch on your career with BAE Systems. To find out more about our apprenticeships click here.