What is your current role at Leonardo?
I am currently a fourth-year Design Graduate Apprentice in my final placement.
When did you start your apprenticeship?
I started my four-year graduate level Design Engineering apprenticeship in Edinburgh in August 2018, aged 18.
What did you study at school?
I studied five Highers in English, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Graphic Communications, before going on to study Physics, Maths and Graphic Communications at advanced Higher level. I was very design-orientated at school, with Graphic Communications being my favourite subject. My love of design, along with maths and physics, drew me towards a career in engineering.
What apprenticeship are you completing?
I’m currently completing a Design Engineer Graduate Apprenticeship. I attend the University of Strathclyde full-time through distance learning while also working full-time. Within the company, I had the opportunity to do five four-month rotational placements, where I went around the different departments and functions in the company such as mechanical and systems engineering, getting a feel for each one. Once I completed my five placements, I got to decide which one I liked the most and applied for a position there. I managed to secure my first choice of the Supplier Quality Assurance department.
Why did you think an apprenticeship was the right path for your career development?
When it came for me to decide what path I wanted to go down after school, one of the main things that attracted me to an apprenticeship was the ‘earn as you learn’ aspect. Apprenticeships offer you all of the benefits of further education but without the debt. The company puts you through your university course while also paying you a monthly wage. You also get first-hand experience from colleagues and specialists who apply the theory into real life situations.
Why did you join Leonardo?
I joined Leonardo because I was really interested in getting into engineering after school. I applied for university and got accepted onto numerous engineering courses. However, it was at that stage that I realised I wouldn’t be getting any experience working as an engineer, so how would I know that I liked it or not? This is when I found the Leonardo graduate apprenticeship advertised online. I applied to the scheme and went through numerous assessment stages before being offered the apprenticeship.
Tell us what you do in a typical day / week
A typical week for me consists of working three days in my department and two days studying toward my BEng Hons in Engineering: Design & Manufacture. My study days are typically completed through distance learning. On these days, I watch lectures, take notes, study them and work on my worked-based project given by the business, which is worth half of my degree.
What has been the best thing about your apprenticeship, has anything surprised you?
The thing I enjoy most about my job is getting to meet so many engineers in the field who all specialise in different areas. It is such a great opportunity to learn from them and gain the knowledge to become a better engineer.
I also enjoy getting to be a part of all of the different projects at the Edinburgh site. I get to have an input and contribute towards all of these different projects.
When I first joined the company, I was surprised at how much responsibility I was given. The work I was given was not just small tasks; there were important jobs that, if not done correctly or on time, could negatively impact the project. As I progressed through the apprenticeship and chose my final placement, I was given a role within the department where I was a point of contact for certain projects and products within the business. If any issues arose on those projects or products, I was the person contacted to create solutions.
What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?
My biggest achievement at Leonardo so far was when I implemented and integrated a piece of test equipment into our shop floor. This implementation gave us major approval from one of our US customers. I also used this in my application for Leonardo Apprentice of the Year UK for my year group, which I won.
I also enjoyed running a charity pub quiz and raffle in aid of the apprentices’ chosen charity, Combat Stress. We raised £1,500 in a single night which was a huge success, with many Edinburgh apprentices and graduates attending and providing great feedback.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank or that you’d say has been the biggest influence on your success?
When I was at school, I had a graphic communications teacher called Mr McGee. He inspired me to become an engineer. In my last year at school, studying Advanced Graphic Communications, Mr McGee would stay in late so that I and a few others could use the computers to advance our knowledge and skill on CAD software.
I am also very lucky to have very supportive family and friends in my life. In particular, I would like to thank my stepdad, Steven, who would teach himself my school subject in order to help me receive the best grades possible to secure my future. My parents were never pushing me towards one career path, which allowed me to choose a job that I love.
What related activities are you involved with outside your specific job role?
I have been involved with the apprentice governance group, Leonardo ladies football team and the apprentice charity committee. All have given me great opportunities to network within the company and gain interchangeable skills.
What are your career aspirations?
I aspire to become a Senior Product Assurance engineer within the business within the next 5 years. Afterwards, I have my sights set on becoming Principle. As I progress throughout my career, I want to expand my knowledge about engineering and be constantly learning new things to be the best at my job as I can be.
Why should someone consider an apprenticeship at Leonardo?
An apprenticeship at Leonardo doesn’t just offer you a qualification; it provides hands-on experience. The amount of responsibility and trust that is given to an apprentice here is way more than I expected when I started.
Leonardo has a positive and friendly environment where everyone is willing to help you succeed, whether that is in work or in academic studies. The company offers a great work-life balance with great benefits such as free gym membership.
What do you plan to do after your apprenticeship finishes?
After I complete my apprenticeship programme, I hope to go on to study towards my Master’s degree, while continuing to work in the Supplier Quality Assurance department.