1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an Apprentice Signal Designer which is mainly concerned with designing major re-signaling schemes across the entire rail network. Most of the work is CAD based and revolves around wiring diagrams with some older diagrams being on drafting film or even linen! There is also the opportunity to go out on track in a testing role where we verify that the equipment has been installed to the correct specification.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have attended a significant number of industry specific training courses that teach you in depth about the equipment used to control the passage of trains on the railway and the reasons they are there! I have also had the opportunity to attend some more generic training such as Emergency First aid at Work, Overall I have developed many of my existing skills and added a fair few extra ones too, I am well on the way to achieving a professional qualification with the Institute of Railway Signaling Engineers
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The work itself is varied and engaging although it can be a little repetitive at times, The railway is anything but paperless and there can be a lot of photocopying! this is true right up to the senior managers so its not something unique to apprentices! The team in the office itself is generally very supportive and always willing to answer questions and help when you are stuck. This is also true of the company in general.
4. How valued do you feel by Siemens?
Generally apprentices are made to feel a valued part of the team once they return from the initial block release at college, Prior to that you can feel a little forgotten about but this rapidly changes one you actually return to the office (continuing studies on day release) Both my line manager and my project manager are readily approachable and always willing to offer help and make sure you are involved to the best of your alibies. Due to the nature of the work it can get a bit hectic at times but there will always be something for you to do even if it is just preparing documents for issue to site.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
At the office everything is reasonably well organized even if it can appear at first glance to be utter chaos! Sadly I cant say so much about the college course, Timetables took at least 3 weeks after the start of the course to settle down without constant double booking of rooms! the organisation of the college assignments also left somewhat to be desired with deliverables often changing close to the deadline...
The company based professional training of organizing courses is incredibly well structured with a clear progression.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The college support is somewhat haphazard. Often it depends on who you speak to on the day and how busy they are, Tutors in general are very approachable and happy to help, that is when you can actually find them! Improvements could defiantly be made from the organisational point of view of the college
On the other hand the training providers used for the technical training through the company are very good in most ways and are approachable and knowledgeable.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My Direct line manager is very supportive and my first port of call for most things, HR is based at head office so can appear a bit distant from your problems but they are generally quick to help once they understand the problem,
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The Salary is competitive and sufficient to meet my day to day living costs, rend food etc with a reasonable standard of living. There are also plenty of opportunities for overtime which can make a reasonable salary into a fantastic one for the level! The best thing is working the Christmas commissioning blockades, there is a decent shift bonus that is the same for all employees from the lowest trainee to the highest manager!
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are various Social events thought the year such as Christmas parties, My office is located in the city centre so is well placed for the vast majority of local amenities, I am also a local cub leader and the company are supportive of this occasionally donating some resources (such as damaged paper) for use by the cubs.
9. Would you recommend Siemens to a friend?
Siemens is a great company to work for as it is at the height of technical development in its field across Europe, there are plenty of opportunities for speedy advancement and the job security and satisfaction are generally good, not to mention it pays well!
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Siemens?
The application process can have a few gaps in it, if you don't hear back for a while don't worry, it may take some time, but when things do start to move they generally move quickly!
If you are on a course with block release at the begging it can seem that you have been forgotten about by the company but as soon as you return to the office this rapidly changes!