1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Railway signal design engineer apprentice. From day to day I manage and control documents and technical drawings as well as improve my knowledge and understanding of railway infrastructure. I work on tasks including designing and redesigning of existing or new signaling equipment and circuitry.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have been put through college at BTEC level 3 180 credit diploma, and also an NVQ level 2. Within work, there are numerous training courses which are available for my personal development. I have so far learnt all the basics required to carry out day to day tasks, as well as how to use technical drawing software and document management software. I have also learnt a lot about railway signaling but still feel there is a lot to learn.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Everyone within the company is incredibly friendly and easy to get on with. The office is open plan and not too strict that it's off-putting. I would say that the apprenticeship exceeded my expectations of how office life would function, but as far as work goes, it's very enjoyable.
4. How valued do you feel by Siemens?
I feel like there is a real push for the apprentices to learn and integrate themselves within the company. We have been told that we are much more valuable to the company than graduates because we learn everything from the bottom up, which in turn, gives us a more solid understanding of the technical and logical issues that we may face. There is also rewards schemes and ceremonies for apprentices who do exceedingly well at their job, which shows you Siemens have a very professional approach to how the treat their apprentices.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
There are a few minor hiccups which cannot be avoided and those are mostly due to college errors. My company tries its hardest to try and mitigate these errors and rectify them as quickly as possible. Aside from the college side of the apprenticeship, there is a clear timescale and a structured support team specifically for apprentices. There is also quite an obvious hierarchy, which was pushed forward by the Lead Design Manager, which indicates to you where you can seek advice.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Our training provider (Swindon North Star College) is available to contact whenever we wish. The teachers are pretty on the ball with their emails and you can expect a response within a couple of days at least. Although, there have been a few times where we have not been able to find or contact a teacher when we have had free time at college.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I feel as though I can talk to almost anyone, about college work, that I am struggling with. My manager is very understanding that work and college may conflict sometimes. My mentors have a very good understanding of the role I play and I feel like the support is good and sufficient enough when I need it.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I live locally, but there is a train station around a 5 minute walk away, and the lines run from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington. Chippenham isn't a particularly expensive place to live, but I live at home with my parents. The company pays us very handsomely as their program makes us the highest paid level 3 apprentices in the UK.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are an unbelievable amount of social activities and events that you can partake in around the company. The whole office goes out for a meal every quarter of the year, there are regular football friendlies which you can get involved in, many, many cake sales that take place. The list goes on.
9a. Would you recommend Siemens to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
The work environment isn't too stressful and they do a lot to keep you happy. The pay is really good too, and so is the support structure for employees in general.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Siemens? *
Ensure you have a moderate understanding of circuits, it doesn't need to be extensive, just what relays are/do and basic power principals. Make sure that you show that you're keen to learn and can't wait to start work. The application happens in three stages, the first being an application via the Siemens jobs page. The second stage is an online aptitude test - which doesn't really count for much and I hear they're wanting to scrap it anyway - I wouldn't worry about this. And then there is an interview, which starts with a very simple practical task, and then a formal questioning. Although formal, it's more of a kind of casual conversation.
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