1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My job role at 3M is a laboratory technician, working in the Hardgoods department. My department is involved in the design and development of inhalation devices, which are used as a treatment asthma. I work on many different projects which include both internal and customer funded projects. My daily tasks include the testing of actuators and aerosols, including metrology of key dimensions, tensile testing, impact resistance and dose counter function testing. I am also involved in the design of fixtures/jigs using a CAD program, and 3D printing of them.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt many different skills since starting my apprenticeship. I have completed my college BTEC in applied science, with a Distinction* achieved, and I have almost completed my work based NVQ. I have completed various different internal courses, including training for 3M policies such as manual handling, PPE and COSHH. I have developed department specific skills, such as conducting tolerance analysis of inhalers and how to review CT scans. I have also complete external training courses for the operations of pieces of equipment in our lab, including the Smartscope (an electronic metrology microscope) and the Instron (a tensile tester). Also, I have had the opportunities to visit various companies and suppliers to increase my knowledge of our products and the industry. Working at 3M has helped me to develop my communication, thinking and listening skills
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I continue to enjoy my apprenticeship very much. I enjoy the work that I do, and there is a good variability between tasks, so I get to work on different things each day. I get on well with my work colleagues both inside and outside of my department. 3M is a great company to work for, and they offer good workplace benefits, such as flex time, to allow me to be flexible with my working hours.
4. How valued do you feel by 3M UK?
I feel very well valued by 3M. I get very good feedback and appreciation from my supervisor and manager, praising the quality and consistency of my work. I have achieved multiple star awards on occasions when excelling in my role. Also, I have good involvement in the range of tasks and projects that we work on, and I have the opportunities to work on new things when they arise.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My apprenticeship is well organised and structured. My induction included an introduction of the department, as well as the fire evacuation procedure. I received all of the resources I needed (e.g. PPE, laptop, account details), which allowed me to complete the required organisational training. I was then able to complete training related to my departments testing procedures. Once I started college, I was told about the structure of the BTEC and NVQ programs, and when I was expected to complete them by.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I received very good support from my college tutor when studying for my BTEC qualification. My tutor always endsured that I had the required information for my assignemnts, and that all work was completed by the deadlines to enable me to achieve a Distinction*. I continue to receive good support from my NVQ assessor. We have regular meetings to track my progress, and to carry out workplace observations and professional discussions required to meet the criteria of my NVQ.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I continue to receive very good support from my employer, including my supervisor and manager. I have regular monthly catch up meetings to discuss how I am getting on at work, and if I have any issues or concerns that I want to raise. Overall, they have a good attitude towards supporting me. I am also able to contact the HR team at any time if I feel there is anything I want to discuss with them.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The annual salary is a good level for the BTEC and NVQ qualifications, and the workplace experience that I continue to develop. It covers my living and travel costs well, leaving me with spare wages to continue to add to my savings. The college and 3M site are both within 10 miles of my home so I have little travelling time, which is a bonus!
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are many different opportunities outside of work which are provided by 3M. There have been various sports and social events, as well as celebratory events and meals for projects that have been commercialized, including ones I have been involved in. There is also a football training club at the local university, taking place every week, which I have been attending for the past few months.
9. Would you recommend 3M UK to a friend?
I would definitely recommend 3M to a friend. I have gained a wide range of knowledge on the company and the department, as well as 3+ years of work experience and a level 3 BTEC and NVQ qualification in applied science. I have developed new skills unique to my role and department, and also improved existing skills. With this experience, I have a good foundation to continue to develop my career with the company and the pharmaceutical industry.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to 3M UK?
I would advise others to make sure they are well prepared for the interview, and to make sure they research the company and the industry to prepare for any questions they may be asked. Before the interview, I would do several practice runs with a friend/family member, and to think about answers to questions that may be asked. The assessment days will most likely involve an I.T. and maths test, so I would recommend to revise on these subjects and do some mock tests. Overall, I would definitely recommend them to apply due to great experiences and opportunities that will be provided to them.
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