For motorsport technology student Kerrie, a gap year in industry led to a trainee position at the company and sponsorship for the final year of her degree.
Kerrie undertook her gap year at GKN Driveline after completing the second year of her BSc motorsports technology degree at Birmingham City University. For her final year she switched her mode of study to part-time after receiving a job offer from the company which also offered to sponsor her - a dream offer for any student!
Kerrie believed taking a gap year in industry would give her a better understanding of what type of engineering she wanted to do.
”Also I’m aware of how competitive the job market is and I thought it was important to give myself an advantage over other students without work experience,” she explains.
It was her own responsibility to find a company who would take her on, and she persevered until she found a willing organisation.
“I applied to many, many companies - around 100 - and did not give up until I found a placement. I wrote letters and emails to engineering companies all around the UK and some abroad. I applied for various different types of engineering jobs,” she notes.
GKN Driveline offered Kerrie a placement as an application engineer in the Global Engineering department in Birmingham.
“I became a member of the Jaguar Land Rover account team, working as an application engineer on the heavy duty Land Rover products which encompass the Discovery, Defender, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport,” she says.
“This role was very varied and presented opportunities to work with a wide range of people in many different departments including product launch, manufacturing engineering, assembly engineering, test and analysis and quality. Many of the tasks I was involved with also required me to work with GKN sister companies overseas.”
She’s also keen to highlight the many benefits of taking a gap year.
“The high points were learning new skills and processes, gaining confidence as an engineer, earning the respect of my colleagues and customers, meeting new and helpful people, the opportunity to mentor younger students and encourage them into engineering, earning a salary and overcoming challenges with problem solving techniques,” she says.
“There were no low points - there have been very challenging moments during my placement but these serve as opportunities to improve as an engineer,” she explains.
Kerrie believes that her gap year experience has given her a lot more confidence in her own ability.
“Before I was unsure I would be able to become a successful engineer straight from university,” she explains. “I have improved my communication and presentation skills as well as my technical ability, have become more organised and I am used to working to very tight deadlines on a day to day basis now, which is very important in automotive trade. Plus I have experienced working in a virtual team environment with engineers based overseas and a cultural awareness that will help in any industry.”
GKN Driveline must also have faith in Kerrie - post-placement the company offered to take her on as a trainee application engineer and sponsor her through her final year of university.
“Upon graduation I’ll become a fully qualified application engineer,” she enthuses. “(Taking a gap year) has given me the opportunity to start my career, an opportunity that I may not have come across straight away in this difficult climate.”