1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As a software apprentice at L3-TRL, I've been exposed to a number of different engineering departments over the last couple of years. I've recently been given my first piece of truly 'independent' work, but still have the option to seek help from other members of my team. Most of my time is spent at my desk writing code or studying, but there are frequent meetings, training sessions, and knowledge sharing sessions that help me get up to speed with projects/technologies.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have! I was recently put on an intensive internal training course which taught me a lot about one of our products, I've now got a lovely certificate to show off, too. My line manager has got me in to the habit of keeping a log of my daily activities, as well as upcoming tasks- which has really helped my organisational skills. In terms of technical skills, I've been exposed to a number of programming languages such as; -Python -C++ -C# -Java My general "software skills" have improved too, learning about version control and documentation with the use of DOORS, winCVS and Git have been particularly useful.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
My current team and the work I'm doing are both great, but there doesn't seem to be a formal training scheme in place. I'm fortunate enough to now be working with people who are geared towards training, but this wasn't always the case, and I didn't enjoy the programme at that time. It's definitely improved.
4. How valued do you feel by L-3 TRL?
TRL does a good job of making me feel like a valued member of staff, I've been given the opportunity to go to several events and represent the company there- I know that they trust me to act professionally and maintain their reputation. The people I work with on a day to day basis make me feel valued, and regularly check up on me to see how I'm getting on with my tasks- and a simple "well done, you've done good work today" from my colleagues does genuinely go a long way. I was off of work for some time with depression but TRL provided me with a number of resources, particularly mental-health and well-being services, that I felt were really helpful in getting me back on track.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
This could definitely improve. There's no real structure at the moment, though this has been recognised by higher management, especially engineering management- who are working closely with HR to develop a formal training scheme. My line manager and I have weekly meetings to discuss my progress, and whether or not I need any help to remove road blocks etc., though I feel this is more to do with me being an employee rather than as an apprentice. I'm given one full day a week during work hours to study, which I really value.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Thus far, QA Apprenticeships have been quite poor in terms of offering support- though I feel this was to do with an individual rather than QA Apprenticeships as a whole. Our point of contact was a technical skills coach (who I'll call Anon for now). Anon failed to book us on to our correct courses on time- so some of us are now forced to take modules that we have no interest in/are not relevant to us, in order to complete the level 5 apprenticeship. Anon also failed to provide us with certain details on our courses, such as due dates for coursework, and failed to respond to phone calls and e-mails more often than not.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My line manager is brilliant, as I mentioned before, we have weekly meetings to discuss progress, but I am able to freely walk over and talk with him during the week if needs be. My immediate team are also particularly helpful, and really helped me settle in to this office very quickly. I feel welcomed. The appetite to support me and train me is definitely there! As mentioned before, I was off with depression for quite some time, and the HR team were able to point me in the direction of a mental-health/wellbeing service, one that they pay for and provide to employees free of charge, that really helped me get back on my feet.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
To come and work here I needed to move up from Bristol, so it was crucial that I'd be able to support myself. TRL offer a very competitive package, which is reviewed every 6 months and stepped up incrementally, which will bring me up to the same salary as a software engineer by the end of my apprenticeship. TRL also covers cost of travel/accommodation/food whilst I am away on training courses, something that I know a lot of other employers tend to "cheap-out" on, having spoken to other apprentices on external training courses.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I'm a member of a scheme which HR put together, called 'Cerebrum'. Cerebrum involves all staff who are graduates, apprentices and industrial placements. I was nominated to help run this! Cerebrum has regular socials, such as go-karting, paintballing, cinema nights, pizza nights etc. that really help us bond as a group, and has given a lot of us a great platform to make new friends. There are a few really active people that have put together groups for sport- there's a football game after work every Thursday, and I'm taking part in volleyball after work tomorrow. TRL also offers a scheme to get discount at local shops and Leisure/Sports clubs, something I took advantage of in the past. There are also a number of company offsite events throughout the year.
9. Would you recommend L-3 TRL to a friend?
TRL is a genuinely great place to work, and it seems like things are only going to improve, especially for us youngsters. I've been welcomed here, and supported here. There's a big focus on training and offering opportunities to people so that they can better themselves, both as individuals and as professionals. In terms of apprenticeships, I know they pay fairly well when compared with other providers, too.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to L-3 TRL?
I'm no expert so I'd only really be able to offer the same old cliché advice that everyone else tells you when writing a CV or going to an interview. The most important thing id say, is that you should make a name for yourself (a good one), make an impression on people and they'll be more likely to remember you, offer you help when you need it, or offer you training opportunities when they come up.
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