Because university isn’t the only route into engineering

Simone is a Degree Apprentice studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering and working at Sellafield. She has an IET Engineering Horizons Bursary.

How did you first hear about the IET?

I first heard about the IET when I began my Apprenticeship in 2017.

Since becoming a member I became more involved with the IET and now volunteer as Co-Chair of Young Professionals Committee for the IET Merseyside and Western Cheshire Local Network.

What attracted you to engineering and what route have you followed into engineering?

Growing up my favourite subjects were Science, Maths and Art. However, due to not having a teacher or parental role model growing up who provided career advice I was never exposed to engineering in my school years and was completely unaware of the career opportunities that are available in engineering.

I chose A levels subject that interested me but I was very unsure of what career I wanted to pursue.

I then felt under pressure to pick a degree but I was overwhelmed with choice from a list of hundreds of degrees. At this point, I began to research career options in my own time and discovered opportunities in engineering.

I never thought engineering was an option for me due to it being a male-dominated industry. Only through my research did I discover how wrong I was, and how many opportunities are available. I realised that University was not the only option into a career in engineering and that you could also gain your degree by doing Degree Apprenticeship.

I decided to start over and studied for a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering. I gained an insight into each engineering discipline and found that I was most interested in Electrical Engineering.

After completing industry work experience through college it was obvious that a Degree Apprenticeship was the right option for me as I loved working and learning on the job. I was offered a position as a CE&I Design Engineer Degree Apprentice at Sellafield and haven’t looked back since. It has been the best opportunity and I am grateful to be doing something that I am passionate about.

How will the Engineering Horizons Bursary help you during your apprenticeship?

The Engineering Horizons Bursary has helped me to invest in Electrical and Electronic books which are not readily available at the library at my place of study. It helped to pay for extra training courses for continued professional development, commuting cost and a laptop so that I can study outside of work.

The Bursary helps me to solely focus on successfully completing my Apprenticeship without any financial pressure and worry.

What made you choose your apprenticeship? Tell us more about your scheme and work responsibilities

My Degree Apprenticeship is a 5-year scheme accredited by the IET. By the end of the scheme, I will graduate with a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Degree from the University of Central Lancashire debt free and will have 5 years’ experience working as a CE&I Design Engineer in the Nuclear Industry.

Throughout the 5 years, I have the opportunity to rotate around the business on different work placements, this ensures I get a broad experience in each specialist area of CE&I engineering, so by the end of the apprenticeship I have good experience in multiple areas opening up more opportunities.

I chose to go down the apprenticeship route as I passionately believe that the best way to learn is through work experience and studying at the same time. The studying aspect of the apprenticeship complements my work experience; I am able to relate my studies to real-life scenarios and vice versa.

Being on the apprenticeship improves your confidence, networking, presenting, communication, management and many other skills and behaviours, to a high professional level that would not be achievable through just classroom studying.

What is your ambition after completing this scheme?

After completing my apprenticeship scheme I would like to complete a Masters part-time and work towards becoming a Chartered Engineer. I am passionate about promoting engineering to the younger generation, especially because this is something I lacked exposure to growing up.

 I hope to be a role model for those who are considering going into engineering and become a mentor to support engineers’ CPD.