Being trained to work in aeronautical engineering and getting paid to boot? Samantha Prichard has gained experience in aircraft maintenance and plans to continue this work at QinetiQ when her apprenticeship ends.
Samantha Prichard is an apprentice at QinetiQ and is currently based at MOD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Set to complete her apprenticeship in September 2012, her aim is to stay on at the company and become involved either in maintaining the aircraft on the hangar floor or possibly working in Installations, where engineers fit various items to aircraft for modifications etc.
The fact that she has been able to gain experience working in an aeronautical engineering environment through the scheme's placements has helped her to discover exactly where she wants to take her career.
So what has the experience been like as a QinetiQ apprentice?
"For my first two years I was being taught basic engineering skills down at the training school," Prichard says. "Then I was put into a mechanical class to learn everything from hydraulic systems to jet engines. In my third year I was put into my placements on squadrons. As well as gaining experience ready for when I finish my apprenticeship, this work is also helping towards my NVQ Level 3. I am being trained in aeronautical engineering, with is maintaining aircraft.
"A pro of an apprenticeship is having a normal week job, but still being able to learn," she continues. "The only con is that you can't qualify for four years. The highlight so far? When I completed all of my many exams I was allowed to go up onto squadrons and put all my learning into practice! I have definitely flourished since."
To get onto the QinetiQ apprenticeship scheme Prichard started by filling out an application form. She was invited to do an aptitude test to see if she was engineer-minded, and then 'passing' this she was invited back to attend an interview.
"I asked engineering questions and also talked about team work. I was notified by post that I'd been successful in gaining a place," she says.
Prichard joined the IET as an apprentice member after an IET professional came to QinetiQ's training centre and gave a presentation.
"The school said they would paid for our membership for our life as an apprentice. I took this opportunity to take advantage of all the benefits, which includes the magazines that I enjoy reading. You get to learn about other projects that are going on around the world that you may not necessarily know about."
Prichard believes many more people should look into apprenticeships and especially girls!
"I think more people should get involved with apprenticeships as they are great," she enthuses. "Also girls should go for jobs in what that they think may be a male dominated world. I was the only girl in my year of 29 guys. After a time they got use to it and now I'm consider of 'one of the guys'!"