Meet Catherine – Business Administration Engineering Apprentice, Preston

Catherine is a Business Administration Apprentice at BAE Systems, based in Preston. Below, she shares with us her experience and learnings as a career changer coming into an apprenticeship.

Why did you join the BAE Systems apprenticeship programme?

‘What really interested me about the BAE Apprenticeship programme, is that it was a stepping stone for me to get into the business regardless of prior experience. I have always had an interest in the industry, but never thought I had the skills to enable me to work here. Prior to working at BAE Systems, I worked in in an industry that didn’t have many opportunities for growth or development. I really wanted a life-long career that I could reach my full potential in. It was then I realized, along with meeting the entry requirements for my chosen scheme, having the desire to learn and succeed meant that an apprenticeship was a doorway for me into a fulfilling career at BAE Systems. It was clear from the research that I did, that I would be fully supported throughout my training to shape me into a great employee. The blended aspect of the scheme works great for me personally, as I am able to re-train and have a career change, and get paid at the same time. If I decided to go through a different route to have a change in career, such as college, I wouldn’t get that benefit. This aspect gives me a great work-life balance and I have the weekends to spend with my two daughters.’

What do you do as part of your role in your apprenticeship and where are you based?

‘I am based at Preston, and currently in my first placement which is in the On Boarding team. Part of my role is preparing candidates for starting their new roles within the Company. It is really interesting and I get the opportunity to network with a wide range of people within the business. I have a further three placements to complete as part of my apprenticeship, which I am really excited about. I love that I get to explore different areas of the business as part of the scheme, which will allow me to find an area that will really suit my skills and qualities.’

What impact do you think you have in your role and how has it made you feel being a part of it?

‘As part of the apprenticeship scheme, I meet with my line manager and skills coach for progress reviews. This is a great opportunity for me to discuss how my placement is going and also for me to receive feedback on how I am doing. My line manager has expressed how valued I am within the team already, and that my contribution to the team has had a great impact.’

How do you feel BAE Systems has helped develop you?

‘Starting the apprenticeship with BAE Systems has made me find a new confidence; I have spoken on career webinars, I have attended a skills event, I am a STEM ambassador, and my confidence has grown when delivering presentations in front of an audience.’

What is it like to work at BAE Systems outside of your Day-to-Day job list?

‘The opportunities outside of my day to day role are so diverse. I have already had the chance to meet other apprentices from different business units, so it’s easy to build up a support system.’

What are some of the best things about this programme?

‘If you have the desire to succeed, the opportunities are so broad. You are supported every step of the way.’

Do you feel like you’ve had to overcome any barriers whilst being at BAE Systems?

‘I think there is a common misconception that to start an apprenticeship you have to be a school or college leaver. But wanting to have a change in career, I had to push through those stereotypes and believe that it doesn’t matter what age you want to start a fresh, age should never be a barrier. BAE Systems is an inclusive workplace and is helping me reach my potential.’

What advice would you give to others who were looking to change their career and move into an apprenticeship?

‘My advice if you are thinking about starting an apprenticeship with BAE Systems; is just go for it. It can be daunting feeling like you’re starting from scratch. But it was an incredibly proud moment when I was told I had been successful, and that feeling made all the worry and uncertainty worth it!’