As I started my A-Levels, doing the three sciences, but no maths, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do afterwards – but I was confident I didn’t want to go to university. I had hated education, and couldn’t wait to go out and be independent. Having applied to several accountancy firms for school leaver schemes, a friend of mine at the time suggested that, as I enjoyed being hands-on with my work, I look at engineering apprenticeships. Specifically the one he was on, at Dstl. I did some research, and thought that the MoD sounded like a far more interesting place to work than anywhere else I’d considered.
Having been successful, I started in September 2016, doing 18 months of training with QinetiQ, and then 18 months placed within the business. The final year, I worked for the Energetics Analysis group, working with explosives detection methods, including dogs. Day-to-day, I provided bespoke engineering solutions for the group, including for both trials and technical work. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to go to two conferences in America, including the International Police Dog Conference in Las Vegas. I also supported at a range of trials across my own team and others (getting many dog cuddles along the way!), as well as meeting customers and users. Some of my most enjoyable time outside of regular work has been volunteering on STEM outreach – I have volunteered on the IET stands at RIAT for the last two years, showcasing engineering to a young audience, as well as representing Dstl, and engineering apprenticeships, at my old secondary school.
Successfully renewing my interest in learning, my engineering apprenticeship encouraged me to look into further opportunities. Whilst I was completing my NVQ, I was busy hunting for sponsored degrees – and a colleague in my own team pointed me in the direction of the Ordnance, Munitions, and Explosives engineering degree course he was on – a Level 6 apprenticeship. The course is a five year, part time degree that I would study for alongside my full-time day job, but funded completely by the business. I applied, and was successful, and on the same day was offered a full time role as EAG’s new prototyping engineer. Subsequently I was also asked to take on the role of workshop manager, and started both positions in September this year.
I have since completed my first four weeks at university, my first degree assignment, and my first practical in the university’s electronics lab. I have already had the opportunity to meet new people – both within Dstl, and at our partners in industry and DE&S – and have thoroughly enjoyed socialising with them. This network will also be crucial for opening new career doors, and possibly working on new, interesting projects later in my career, an opportunity I would not have had without this apprenticeship.Link
I look forward to seeing where this second apprenticeship will take me with Dstl, and in life, and cannot wait to continue to push myself both educationally, and professionally.
Check out our video to see how we took a very different approach to the official opening of our indoor ballistics range.
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