1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am undertaking the Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management with THales UK. My daily tasks are never the same. With a vast amount of evidence required for my apprenticeship portfolio, it is essential from the business' point of view that I obtain as much experience as possible, as soon as possible. I interact daily across numerous departments, giving me a good overview of the effort required to keep complex projects running efficiently. I have been at Thales for under three months and I am working on a multi-million pound project as well another portfolio of projects, so it is fair to say, you are thrown in the deep end. My average working day consists of attending numerous project and programme meetings with the project manager, and I am now starting to contribute, and occasionally lead some meetings. The role so far has been challenging and hard work, but have enjoyed every minute so far.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
With Thales being so strong in the global IT market, it is no surprise that everything in the workplace is pretty high-tech. The role I am fulfilling does not require me to be an excel wizard, but Thales are dedicated to the ongoing development of its employees and offer endless amounts of training through interactive courses, 'lunch'n' learns' and even language courses. On top of this, Thales have mandatory personal development discussions annually, to ensure that each employee is reaching their full potential, for both the business and for the employee themself. At the end of my apprenticeship, I will be awarded a Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management, which is equivalent to a foundation degree. Furthermore, Thales ensure that once the apprenticeship has concluded, that each apprentice undertakes the initial qualification with the Association of Project Management (APM). In essence Thales provide every opportunity through this programme to ensure that by the end of my two year apprenticeship, I will have everything I need to be recognised as a Project Management Proffessional.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The programme so far is very enjoyable. Both the Bid and Project Management function and the Project teams have been particularly supportive and understanding of the steep learning curve in the early stages. I have experience in previous working environments, and Thales treat me like a professional, even as a new starting apprentice.
4. How valued do you feel by Thales?
Thales are particularly keen to make all apprentices feel welcome and valued in the early stages. Within the first month, I had been introduced and encouraged to 'network' with senior managers and introduce ourselves. On every occasion, apprentices are greeted with great and genuine enthusiasm.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme initially was slightly confusing, both for the business and myself, purely because this is the first batch of project management apprentices brought through on the course from QA. For the next batch of apprentices, they will have a clear way ahead and understanding of exactly where the programme is taking them. The programme is mainly based in the workplace - a learn by doing approach, while regular trips to Central London and Crawley aid with the implementation of the theory of project management.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I have a course assessor and a different course tutor. Both the assessor and tutor are more than happy to answer any queries, offer support, or even just review 'unecessary' work, such a practice reporting.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My employer provides training in Crawley, have assigned me a line manager, two project managers, and an apprentice co-ordinator. I also have access to HR staff at any time.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Thales have a clear pay programme, and I would consider generous for an apprentice wage, with the guarantee of a pay review every year.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Each site across Thales will have their own community activities. At templecombe there are several five-a-side football clubs and there are regular apprentice/graduate nights out, as well as project functions.
9. Would you recommend Thales to a friend?
I have been recommending Thales to friends and family. For all of the reasons above. The most important thing for me was that I am treated like a proffessional, and my personal and professional development are monitored closely.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Thales?
The best tip I can give is to be completely honest and genuine in your application. Thales is a company which considers its reputation to be vital to success and will take all precautions to make sure it stays so.